Mitch McConnell’s campaign trolled Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday after she voiced fury at a viral image of a life-sized cutout of her being pawed at and choked by his supporters.
‘Team Mitch in no way condones any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning act toward life-sized cardboard cutouts of any gender,’ McConnell campaign spokesman Kevin Golden said in a statement to DailyMail.com.
McConnell’s camp noted that staffers for then-President Barack Obama’s staffers behaved similarly with a cutout of Hillary Clinton 11 years ago, while other chalked outrage over the incident up to hypersensitivity.
‘I think we are taking political correctness to the extremes,’ former Michigan Republican Party chairman Saul Anuzis said.
‘I think the political reality is these were kids who thought it was a funny thing to do. Nobody intended to, you know, show any disrespect or any of the negative things that she’s claiming.’
The photo, first posted to Instagram, shows the seven young men making choking and kissing gestures at a cardboard cutout of the New York congresswoman.
Golden claimed the young men, who are wearing ‘Team Mitch’ t-shirts, do not work for the campaign and claimed they were high school students.
It was unclear how the campaign knows who they are if they have nothing to do with it.
The picture was publicly posted by a vocal Mitch McConnell supporter from Kentucky who tagged his campaign team on Instagram.
‘These young 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,’ Golden said.
‘We’ve watched for years as the far-left and the media look for every possible way to demonize, stereotype, and publicly castigate every young person who dares to get involved with Republican politics,’ he added.
Ocasio-Cortez was outraged on Monday after the image circulated on social media.
A McConnell supporter named Bill Marshall posted the photo to his Instagram account.
The image shows seven white men wearing ‘Team Mitch’ t-shirts standing around a cardboard cutout of Ocasio-Cortez. One of the men has his hand around the cutout’s waist and simulates a kiss on the cheek.
Another man cups his hand and reaches for the throat as if to simulate choking.
The caption on the Instagram post reads: ‘Break me off a piece of that.’
Ocasio-Cortez responded to the image on Monday, tweeting: ‘Hey @senatemajldr – these young men look like they work for you.
‘Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping and choking members of Congress with your payroll, or is this just the standard culture of Team Mitch?
The photo, which was first posted on Instagram, went viral after it was shared on Twitter by a woman with the handle ‘feminist next door.’
‘Future federal judges of America,’ the woman tweeted.
The image was taken on Saturday in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, the site of the annual St. Jerome Catholic Church Picnic.
The annual event is considered the start of Kentucky’s political campaign season.
‘Team Mitch’ refers to supporters of McConnell, the Senate majority leader, who is running for re-election next year.
He is considered the heavy favorite to retain his seat.
McConnell, who bills himself as ‘the grim reaper of socialism,’ will face Democrat Amy McGrath, the former Marine fighter pilot and veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
McGrath blasted McConnell on Monday after the ‘Team Mitch’ Twitter account posted a photo of a makeshift graveyard filled with cardboard tombstones that read ‘R.I.P.’
Each tombstone bears different names: ‘Socialism’; ‘Green New Deal’; ‘Merrick Garland’; and ‘Amy McGrath.’
Garland is the chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In March 2016, then-President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the deceased Antonin Scalia.
But the Republican-controlled Senate led by McConnell refused to hold a hearing or vote on the nomination.
Obama was never given the opportunity to fill the vacancy.
After Donald Trump’s shock election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, the Republican president nominated a conservative judge, Neil Gorsuch, to fill the seat.
McGrath tweeted on Monday: ‘Hours after the El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell proudly tweeted this photo.
‘I find it so troubling that our politics have become so nasty and personal that the Senate Majority Leader thinks it’s appropriate to use imagery of the death of a political opponent (me) as messaging.
‘It’s symptomatic of what is wrong with our system. I’m fine with the ordinary rough and tumble of politics, but this strikes me as beyond the pale.’
During his remarks at the picnic on Saturday, McConnell referred to his opponent as ‘Amy McGaffe,’ according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
McGrath did not attend the event, prompting McConnell to quip: ‘She sends her regrets. She’s still working on her answer on Brett Kavanaugh for MSNBC.’
The comment was a reference to McGrath’s prior statement indicating that she ‘probably’ would have voted to confirm Kavanaugh.
The Kavanaugh confirmation was controversial and bitterly contested after Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexual assault when they were in high school more than 30 years ago.
After liberals expressed anger over McGrath’s comments, she reversed herself, saying that she would not have voted for Kavanaugh’s nomination.
The Team Mitch Twitter account also tweeted a photo of McConnell with a sling and cast.
McConnell suffered a broken left shoulder after falling in his home over the weekend.
The Senate majority leader also tweeted a photo of his sneaker, which looked as if it ripped apart.
This is the second time in as many days that Ocasio-Cortez has taken aim at McConnell on Twitter.
On Sunday, the congresswoman criticized McConnell for not allowing a Senate vote on a bill that would require background checks for those seeking to purchase a gun.
‘The House passed HR8, a Bipartisan Background Checks Act, *5 months ago* and the Senate has yet to vote on it,’ Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
‘It was one of our 1st major priorities after ending the gov shutdown.
‘You’ve been sitting on it since February giving bogus excuses.
‘Care to explain the people why?’
The tweet was in response to McConnell’s condolence message following the mass shooting in El Paso on Saturday.
‘The entire nation is horrified by today’s senseless violence in El Paso,’ the Kentucky Republican tweeted.
‘Elaine’s and my prayers go out to the victims of this terrible violence, their families and friends, and the brave first responders who charged into harm’s way.’
Ocasio-Cortez was in Brooklyn on Monday where she spoke at a rally and vigil for the victims of the El Paso and Dayton, Ohio shootings over the weekend.