- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sparred with the conservative pundit Ben Shapiro on Thursday after Shapiro challenged her to a debate.
- Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic US House candidate in New York, accused Shapiro and his allies of harassing her, comparing their behaviour to catcalling – and something to which she’s not obliged to respond.
- Shapiro then accused Ocasio-Cortez of “slandering” him.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising star on the left, sparred with the conservative pundit Ben Shapiro on Thursday after Shapiro challenged her to a debate in exchange for a $US10,000 campaign donation.
Following a chorus of calls on the right for her to take Shapiro up on his offer, Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old Democratic US House candidate in New York, accused Shapiro and his allies of harassing her.
Just like catcalling, I don’t owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions.
And also like catcalling, for some reason they feel entitled to one. pic.twitter.com/rsD17Oq9qe
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 10, 2018
Shapiro, a conservative millennial commentator who edits the right-wing website The Daily Wire, quickly condemned Ocasio-Cortez’s suggestion that his offer was made in bad faith.
“Discussion and debate are not ‘bad intentions,'” he tweeted. “Slandering someone as a sexist catcaller without reason or evidence does demonstrate cowardice and bad intent, however.”
He added: “I’m sure your media sycophants will eat it up.”
Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic socialist who stunned Washington when she defeated the powerful incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s primary in June, has developed a robust social-media presence, and her tweets often go viral.
Shapiro is not the first in conservative circles to offer to debate liberal politicians with more power and influence – Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas repeatedly challenged President Barack Obama to debate policies like the Iran nuclear deal.
Many on the left criticised Shapiro for what they viewed as a gimmicky provocation designed to earn him media attention, something of which Shapiro himself has been critical.
“Ticking off the left by just saying nasty things is not productive,” he told Business Insider recently. “And it wasn’t defeating political correctness – it’s actually exacerbating political correctness. Because when you’re a jerk just to piss people off, then the natural reaction by people tends to be: ‘Well, we need more restrictions on speech. We need more political correctness, not less.'”
OpenSecrets, an arm of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, noted in a tweet that a $US10,000 donation to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign would violate campaign-finance regulations for individual donations.
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