After her primary win earlier this year, Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) immediately caught national attention and became the face of Democrats’ more left-leaning class of candidates who pushed the envelope on what some considered to be socialist policies.
Joy to the World!
Merry Christmas everyone – here’s to a holiday filled with happiness, family, and love for all people. 🌎(Including refugee babies in mangers + their parents.)
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 25, 2018
She’s received near-constant coverage for her controversial remarks, left-leaning policies, and even for standing up to House Democratic leadership after the election.
Incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joins sit-in in Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's office calling for efforts to combat climate change: "We don't have a choice." https://t.co/gLuznc0WMb pic.twitter.com/BfPQKyifIZ
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 13, 2018
At least one leading Democrat, however, doesn’t get why the new congresswoman is getting so much attention.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who lost in 2018 after spending roughly a decade in the Senate, seemed perplexed when asked about Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with CNN.
“I’m a little confused why she’s the thing,” McCaskill told CNN. “But it’s a good example of what I’m talking about, a bright shiny new object, came out of nowhere and surprised people when she beat a very experienced congressman.”
As IJR previously reported, McCaskill warned about the Democratic party going too far to the left and demanding “purity” on issues like health care — an issue about which Ocasio-Cortez has been particularly vocal.
During that interview, she said the American electorate was “pretty fickle when it comes to presidential politics.” “They want a new, bright and shiny object,” she said.
While those remarks focused on presidential politics, her comments to CNN indicated she thought Ocasio-Cortez was similarly gaining attention for her novelty rather than experience.
“And so she’s now talked about a lot,” McCaskill added. “I’m not sure what she’s done yet to generate that kind of enthusiasm, but I wish her well. I hope she hangs the moon.”
She went on to give Ocasio-Cortez a word of caution when it came to dealing with white, working-class voters:
“But I hope she also realizes that the parts of the country that are rejecting the Democratic Party, like a whole lot of white working class voters, need to hear about how their work is going to be respected, and the dignity of their jobs, and how we can really stick to issues that we can actually accomplish something on.”
McCaskill also commented on whether Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), somewhat of a progressive hero who caught flak for claiming Native American heritage, could win major states like Florida in a presidential election. “I don’t know. I think it’s hard,” McCaskill said.