Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for a viral photo on social media of young supporters wearing ‘Team Mitch’ shirts posing with a cardboard cutout of her at the Fancy Farm Picnic.
The congresswoman asked McConnell in a tweet Monday night to clarify whether he’s paying the young men to “practice groping and choking members of Congress” or whether it’s standard culture for Team Mitch, the senator’s reelection campaign.
She shared a tweeted photo of the supporters that had been posted to social media. A caption included with the photo by a name that is blacked out reads, “break me off a piece of that.”
Hey @senatemajldr - these young men look like they work for you.
Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 6, 2019
McConnell campaign spokesperson Kevin Golden told HuffPost that Team Mitch “in no way condones any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning act toward life-sized cardboard cutouts of any gender.” He said the men are “not campaign staff; they’re high schoolers, and it’s incredible that the national media has sought to once again paint a target on their backs rather than report real, and significant news in our country.” Team Mitch has not responded to a WKMS News request for more information about the photo.
Another posting of the photo to Instagram by a person who has been active with the Republican Party of Fayette County tagged it from Fancy Farm, Kentucky, the site of the annual political picnic known for its raucous atmosphere, held last Saturday. McConnell spoke on stage to cheering Republican supporters and Democrats jeering “Moscow Mitch.”
Young Team Mitch supporters were seen with other cutouts at the Fancy Farm Picnic, including large heads of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The photo is not the only controversial imagery from Fancy Farm involving Team Mitch. The campaign tweeted a photo of tombstone signs that say RIP Socialism, the Green New Deal, former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, Kentucky Secretary of State and former Democratic challenger for Senate Alison Lundergan Grimes and McConnell’s 2020 Democratic challenger, retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath.
McConnell’s campaign tweeted the photo with the message, “The Grim Reaper of Socialism at Fancy Farm today.” McConnell at the event said he calls himself the grim reaper because he’s “killing their socialist agenda.”
McGrath in a tweet called the tombstone photo “troubling” and noted it was posted hours after the El Paso, Texas, shooting. The Hill reports former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and a campaign spokesperson for Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee also tweeted about the photo.
The Kentucky Democratic Party said in a release on Monday about the tombstones, McConnell should "remove inflammatory and violent imagery from his campaign Twitter account."
Campaign manager Kevin Golden told The Hill in a statement the tombstone signs were built by supporters as an homage to a Courier Journal cartoon, which he said McGrath has also tweeted about. He suggested she is familiar with the context and said "it’s shameful that she’s pretending not to know exactly what it is referencing in order to politicize a tragedy." Team Mitch has not responded to a WKMS News request for more information about the photo.
Update: This story was updated to include Team Mitch spokesperson Kevin Golden's comments about the AOC cardboard cutout photo to HuffPost.