A Democrat running for Congress in San Diego is under fire after allegedly calling a rival candidate a “crusty old Marine” during a campaign event -- though she denies she was referring to her opponent.
The comments by Sara Jacobs, 29, who is running to replace outgoing Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, were reported in an otherwise glowing profile in Cosmopolitan -- which described her as a “bitmoji-using, America's Top Model-loving” candidate.
Asked how she would fare with the district’s large military population, considering fellow Democrat Doug Applegate is a retired Marine colonel, she responded: “It’s true...I’m not a crusty old Marine.”
Cosmo called it “an awkward moment” and reported that the group remained “mostly silent.” The remarks quickly sparked a backlash from Democrats and Republicans.
“As somebody who proudly served our country and risked life and limb to defend our nation and our families, I believe that no candidate for public office should attack our service members,” Christina Prejean, an Air Force veteran and Democratic candidate, said in a statement to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We serve because of our innate passion to protect our country. We should never tear down veterans.”
Parke Skelton, a consultant for another Democratic candidate in the race, called it a “devastating error.”
Jacobs apologized for the remarks in a statement on Facebook -- saying they were taken out of context and she was not referring to Applegate.
"I apologize to any Marines or other members of the military who this offended. That was never my intention," she said.
Applegate's campaign did not respond to a request for comment. A representative for Cosmopolitan told Fox News that the author of the piece, Rebecca Nelson, stands by her reporting.
Jacobs has significant financial backing as well as D.C. experience. According to Cosmopolitan, her family includes big money Democratic donors -- her grandfather co-founded telecommunications company Qualcomm. She worked at the U.N. and UNICEF before working for the Obama-era State Department and then as an unpaid foreign policy adviser for the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign.
Her family wealth has composed $1 million of the $1.3 million she raised in the first quarter.
In her campaign video, she touted her experience in government as well as her identity as a young woman who may better serve to represent her district.
“There aren’t a lot of people that look like me,” she says in her campaign video over a montage of older male lawmakers.
That video also appeared to acknowledge the military makeup of the district, saying “you know there’s something wrong when defense industry profits are rising and yet 32,000 military families a month have to visit the food bank in San Diego county.”
The Jacobs campaign appeared to acknowledge the risk her remarks posed to the campaign, and reportedly had supporters who are veterans call the Union-Tribune to offer support.
“I can say that based on my interactions with Sara and the time I’ve known her, that she has not had anything negative or derogatory to say about veterans,” one veteran told the paper.