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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) wears a face mask to protect herself from the coronavirus during a press conference in the Corona neighborhood of Queens on April 14, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)

Ocasio-Cortez Welcomes Help From Anti-Trump Republicans in Defeating President—But Rejects Kasich's Attempt to Define Party

"Something tells me a Republican who fights against women's rights doesn't get to say who is or isn't representative of the Democratic Party."

Julia Conley, staff writer

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday welcomed the Democratic National Committee's attempt to gather as much anti-Trump energy as possible ahead of the general election by reaching out to leaders from across the political spectrum, but made clear that she will reject any attempt by so-called "moderate" Republicans who are invited to the party's convention to define what the Democratic Party stands for.

The New York Democrat responded to a BuzzFeed interview in which former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who is speaking at the Democratic National Convention Monday night, downplayed the significance of Ocasio-Cortez's rise in the party over the past two years. 

Claiming the American electorate is, by and large, "moderate," Kasich dismissed Ocasio-Cortez as being "extreme" and representative of a small minority of Democratic voters.

"Because AOC gets outsized publicity doesn't mean she represents the Democratic Party," said Kasich, who ran against President Donald Trump in the Republican primary in 2016 and has been a vocal critic of the president. "She's just a part, just some member of it."

Kasich is one of several Republicans speaking at the convention on Monday night. While citing the importance of Republicans like Kasich rejecting Trump, Ocasio-Cortez made clear that the Democratic Party shouldn't allow GOP supporters of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to dictate the party's overall message to voters.

"Something tells me a Republican who fights against women's rights doesn't get to say who is or isn't representative of the Democratic Party," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

While Kasich is right to back former Biden over Trump in the election, the congresswoman added, he is still "an anti-choice extremist" and "is not a friend to workers."

In 2018, when he was governor of Ohio, Kasich signed into law a ban on second trimester dilation-and-evacuation abortions, a common medical method of terminating a pregnancy. Under the law doctors who perform the procedure could face a fourth-degree felony and up to 18 months in prison. In 2019, a federal court ordered the state not to enforce the portion of the law that would penalize providers.  

Kasich also attempted to gut collective bargaining rights for 715,000 state employees—but was overruled by Ohio voters when the bill he signed was put up for a referendum.

"We can build bridges and not lose sight of our values," said Ocasio-Cortez, who is slated to speak for one minute at the convention.

Contrary to Kasich's claims, Ocasio-Cortez's views on the climate, healthcare, and the economy are actually in line with those of a majority of Americans, particularly Democratic voters.

In April, a month into the public health and economic crises which have forced millions of people off their employer-sponsored healthcare coverage, a Hill-HarrisX poll found that 69% of respondents supported Medicare for All. Polling last year found nearly two-thirds of Americans supported a Green New Deal to create jobs while combating the climate crisis, including 86% of Democrats. Sixty-four percent of respondents to a Reuters poll in January backed a wealth tax for the wealthiest Americans, including 77% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans.   

Writer and organizer Melissa Ryan slammed Kasich for his dismissal of Ocasio-Cortez, suggesting that the Democratic Party's embrace of an "anti-choice union buster" would convince few on-the-fence voters to back Biden while shoving aside a popular progressive whose views are in line with most Democratic voters.

"Courting John Kasich might net some Independents and disgruntled Republicans, which is fine for this election," tweeted New York Times op-ed writer Wajahat Ali. "But Democrats would be wise courting progressives if they want to thrive in the future. Stop being afraid of the label and personalities like AOC who will keep rising."

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