Move over, Nancy Pelosi. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the “squad” of freshmen women of color are emerging as new stars of Republican attacks against Democrats running for Congress. The tone is being set from the top as President Donald Trump bashes the four squad members with a strategy Republicans are quick to mimic, modeled on his own rise to the White House. Trump set a new standard in 2016, making some Republicans uneasy, by taunting rivals and branding them with exaggerated nicknames intended to make them unelectable. The GOP is embracing the tactic for 2020. A first test will be a Sept. 10 special election in North Carolina, the state where Trump sparked the “send her back!” rally chant. The Trump-endorsed Republican, Dan Bishop, is portraying Marine veteran Dan McCready and other Democrats as “crazies,” ?clowns” and “socialist.” “These crazy liberal clowns … They’re not funny,” Bishop says in one ad that features images of McCready, Pelosi and squad members to a soundtrack of circus music. “They’re downright scary.” Yet it remains to be seen whether this line of attack will work. For years, Republicans relied on attacks depicting Pelosi, the House speaker, as an out-of-touch San Francisco liberal as they tried to snap GOP voters to attention. But singling out a new generation of female leaders is risky when Republicans are trying to prevent an exodus of suburban women and independent voters. The attacks are especially fraught because two of the women — Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan
Long before President Donald Trump turned up the heat on four Democratic congresswomen of color, saying they should “go back” to their home countries, hateful rhetoric and disinformation about the self-described squad was lurking online. Racist, inflammatory and inaccurate content has circulated on far right blogs, news sites and social media accounts about Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and her three freshman colleagues since they ran for public office. With his tweets and harsh comments, Trump has elevated that rhetoric, playing into a conspiratorial feedback loop that reared its head repeatedly during his campaign and presidency. Trump rose to conservative prominence by falsely claiming former President Barack Obama, the first black president, wasn’t born in the country. Since then, he has promoted claims and memes that originated in the darkest corners of the internet while fueling new ones of his own. His latest targets are Omar and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. In his Sunday tweets , Trump claimed, without identifying the women by name, that the minority legislators “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe.” He suggested they should “go back” to those “totally broken and crime infested places,” even though three of the four were born in the U.S. and all are U.S. citizens. He has since questioned the women’s allegiance to their country, accusing them of hating America and promoting terrorism while suggesting they should leave America if they’re unhappy here. For
Ilhan Omar was born October 4, 1981 in Somalia. Ilhan Omar and her family fled the country’s civil war when she was eight-years-old. They lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for four years before coming to the United States, eventually settling in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis in 1997.
Ilhan’s interest in politics began at the age of 14 when she was as an interpreter for her grandfather at local DFL caucuses. Watching neighbors come together to advocate for change at the grassroots level made Ilhan fall in love with the democratic process.
As a student at Edison High School in Minneapolis, she became an organizer and has been a coalition builder ever since. She worked as a community educator at the University of Minnesota and has been a devoted progressive activist in the DFL party for many years. Before running for office, Ilhan was a Humphrey Policy Fellow and served as a senior Policy Aide for a Minneapolis City Council Member. Through advocacy work with which she’s been involved, she’s advanced important issues, including support for working families, educational access, environmental protection, and racial equity.