- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2018

Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez struggled with a question about House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Wednesday night, initially stating that there isn’t “any one head” of the Democratic Party.

In an interview on CNN’s “Cuomo Primetime,” anchor Chris Cuomo asked the 28-year-old New Yorker who she believed to be the “head of the Democratic Party.”

“Well, I don’t think that there’s any one head,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a democratic socialist, replied after giving the question some thought. “We are a collective, this is a movement, and I don’t think parties are ever about one person, but they’re about the contributions that each one person gives to the party.”

Mr. Cuomo accused Ms. Ocasio-Cortez of being “intentionally” vague.

“If you are to be successful in the general,” Mr. Cuomo pressed, “there will be a leader of your caucus. Her name is Nancy Pelosi. Do you recognize her as the leader for the House Democrats?”

“Of course,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez answered tersely. “I think absolutely, right now, she is the leader. Hopefully, you know, we’ll see — she’s the current leader of the party and I think that the party absolutely does have its leadership in the House. We have our leadership in the Senate as well.”

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Asked if she would support Mrs. Pelosi as leader, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez responded, “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, as you mentioned, I’ve got to win my race first. But we’ve got to take a look at what’s going on. We’ve got to take a look at winning the House back in November, and then once the House is won, we have to make that decision from there. You know, I think, it’s not about a referendum on any one person, but it needs to be a referendum on where we are at as a team, as a collective, as people who are interested in advancing the economic and social issues in America.”

Mr. Cuomo pointed out that some Democrats have been reluctant to back Mrs. Pelosi as leader ahead of the midterm elections amid warring factions in the party between moderate and far-left Democrats.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said the focus on who backs Mrs. Pelosi and who doesn’t has become a deliberate distraction.

“You know, I think it is like that red herring, where the more time we spend debating any one individual person or figure is less time that we spend talking about Medicare for all, tuition-free public college and a great new deal,” she said. “I think that what we really need to do is have discipline on winning back the House. We need to spend a lot more time talking about the issues that Americans care about.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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