A group of young, white men in “Team Mitch” t-shirts gather around a cardboard cutout of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Several of them hold their thumbs down, while one holds the cut-out around the waist and pretends to kiss her. Another, disturbingly, is pictured to mime choking the life size cut-out’s neck.
These young men are supporters of Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and the image was originally posted to Instagram along with the caption “break me off a piece of that.”
The photo was taken at a political event called the Fancy Farm Picnic in western Kentucky.
The image has since been shared on Twitter and has gone viral after Ocasio-Cortez tweeted directly to McConnell, asking him to clarify the image and why these young men, in “Team Mitch” t-shirts, were ‘groping and choking’ a life-size cut out of a female member of the US Congress.
“Hey @senatemajldr – these young men look like they work for you,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted alongside the image on Monday night.
“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? Thanks.”
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
In a statement shared with the Washington Post, McConnell’s campaign manager Kevin Golden, said the media is using the image of the young men to “demonize, stereotype, and publicly castigate every young person who dares to get involved with Republican politics.”
The statement also said “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.”