AOC urges Democrats to ’not fight each other’

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday said it was "irresponsible" for fellow Democrats to point fingers at each other over the party’s weak showing in House races, warning that it would only inflame deep tensions.

The New York Democrat, an icon of the party’s progressive wing, appeared on CNN “State of the Union” as House Democrats faced the prospect of holding a thinner majority heading into the next Congress than they had after the 2018 election.

Some House Democratic leaders and other moderates warned last week that moving too far left cost the party House seats and imperiled the party’s hopes of capturing the Senate, which will be determined by two runoff races in Georgia in January. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a "Blue Dog" Democrat from Virginia, warned colleagues on a private call after the election that "no one should say ‘defund the police’ ever again."

Ocasio-Cortez rejected that criticism on Sunday.

"When we kind of come out swinging not 48 hours after Tuesday, and we don’t even have solid data yet, pointing fingers and telling each other what to do, it deepens the division in the party," she said. "And it’s irresponsible. It’s irresponsible to pour gasoline on what is already very delicate tensions in the party.”

Spanberger who drew headlines for her criticisms last week, is slightly ahead in her race but it has yet to be called. At least seven House Democratic incumbents lost their seats — two in Florida and one each in Iowa, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Carolina and Minnesota.

The debate was the dominant theme among Democrats appearing on political talk shows Sunday, even as the party celebrated projections that Joe Biden won the presidency.

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the No. 3 Democrat in the House, said on NBC’s "Meet the Press" that fears about the socialism label and the phrase "Defund the police" weighed on Democratic candidates including those in his state, citing the failed Senate campaign of Jamie Harrison and the unsuccessful reelection effort of Rep. Joe Cunningham.

"I just hope that going forward we will think about each one of these congressional districts and let people represent their districts," he said.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), a centrist, said on CBS’ "Face the Nation" that Biden lost in his state because Democrats "didn’t have a good message." He said voters "went from being mad [in 2016] to being scared in 2020." Biden lost West Virginia by by nearly 40 percentage points.

"They were scared of this socialism that was thrown out there by a radical part of the so-called left," Manchin said. "That hung on and hung on strongly, and it’s not who we are. … I have fought against that. Joe Biden has fought against that."

Ocasio-Cortez, who was easily reelected, said Democrats instead should focus on campaign operations that are more resilient to Republican attacks, in part by improving what she called a "very weak" digital campaign apparatus.

She warned that with a slimmer majority, "it’s going to be more important than ever for us to work together and not fight each other."

"There are, at least in the House caucus, very deep divisions within the party," she said. "We need to really come together and not allow Republican narratives to tear us apart."

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a member of “The Squad” with other progressive female lawmakers including Ocasio-Cortez, said on CNN’s “Inside Politics” that Democrats’ approach “shouldn’t be to attack one another and to allow the Republicans — who benefit when we are a divided House — to have the last word.”

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