Shock today after a photo of a group of young men backing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were photographed clustering around a cardboard cutout of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of them holding the life-size poster by the waist and pretending to kiss the congresswoman, while another appears to mime his hand around her neck.
To Ocasio-Cortez, the photo — originally posted to Instagram and then made viral on Twitter on Monday — suggested an endorsement of violent misogyny.
“Are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?” Ocasio-Cortez asked on Twitter on Monday night.
McConnell’s campaign answered in the negative to both questions, saying in a statement that it “in no way condones” the image and also noting that the men are high school students with no official affiliation.
“Break me off a piece of that,” the caption reads in the circulated photo.
The photo with Ocasio-Cortez’s cardboard cutout was apparently taken Saturday at a political event called the Fancy Farm Picnic, held in a small western Kentucky town of the same name.
McConnell’s appearance was interrupted by protesters shouting “Moscow Mitch,” a slur given to the majority leader by critics in part over his move to block election security measures.
It’s not clear exactly who the men in the photo are, though some were later featured in another image shot at Fancy Farm and shared by the McConnell campaign’s Instagram account, holding large posters of Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
On Monday afternoon, a widely followed feminist Twitter account tweeted out the cutout photo, derisively calling the men “future federal judges of America.”
Ocasio-Cortez responded a few hours later by tagging McConnell and asking him to clarify if they worked for him and whether he condoned their behavior.
“These young men are not campaign staff, they’re high schoolers and it’s incredible that the national media has sought to once again paint a target on their backs rather than report real, and significant news in our country,” said Kevin Golden, McConnell’s campaign manager, in a statement.
Golden decried the image but also noted that former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau was castigated in late 2008 for a photo of him groping a Hillary Clinton cardboard cutout at a party. Favreau apologized and Clinton’s office joked about the incident.
“Team Mitch in no way condones any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning act toward life sized cardboard cut outs of any gender in a manner similar to what we saw from President Obama’s speechwriting staff several years ago,” Golden said.
Attribution:The Washington Post