Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro responded Friday to accusations by democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that he catcalled her in his debate challenge, arguing that she didn’t want to come across as being “afraid.”
In an exclusive interview with Fox News’ Trish Regan, Shapiro was asked for his thoughts on his debate offer being compared to "catcalling" by the House candidate.
While quipping that “catcalling must be very weird in Queens,” Shapiro accused people “on the left” of using a “defense in which anybody who requests a discussion or a debate must be evil by their very nature.”
“It’s catcalling because, I guess, if I suggest that I want to have a conversation, I’m demanding a response,” he said. “Well every request is a request. All she had to say here was, ‘Nah.’ That would’ve been fine, I mean she’s got that prerogative.”
In a video posted Wednesday, in which Shapiro mocked Democratic National Committee chairperson Tom Perez for labeling the New York congressional candidate the “future of the Democratic Party,” he offered to donate $10,000 to her campaign if she accepted an offer to debate him.
“Miss Ocasio-Cortez, I’m really excited that you’ve been elevated to that position and I would love to have a real conversation with you about the issues. You’ve noted that you think Republicans are afraid to debate you or talk to you or discuss the issues with you,” Shapiro said.
“Not only am I eager to discuss the issues with you, I’m willing to offer $10,000 to your campaign, today, for you to come on our Sunday special,” he continued. “We can have an hour long conversation about all the topics under the sun, really probe your belief system.”
In a response on Twitter Thursday night, however, Ocasio-Cortez compared the debate request to “catcalling” and said she didn’t “owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions.”
"And also like catcalling, for some reason they feel entitled to one," she continued.
On Friday Shapiro said there was "no question" that Ocasio-Cortez was playing the "victim card."
“And the fact that she feels the necessity to go to this particular card, right, to play the ‘I’m a female and therefore I’m being victimized, this is like catcalling’ … the fact [that] she goes there instead of just saying ‘You know, I’m not interested in debate,’" Shapiro continued, "the reason she didn’t say the latter is because she didn’t want to look like she was afraid.”
He went on to say that he didn’t think there was “a lot of upside for her” to agree to the debate, saying she was unlikely to answer “questions well.”
“I mean, if she were to get into a discussion with somebody who asks her tough questions, I don’t think she has the information or the philosophy at her disposal to actually answer those questions well,” Shapiro said. “And she knows that, which is why her best move here would have been either to just ignore or to say no. And then everybody would’ve moved on with their life.”
However, “it turned into her invoking victim status,” he said.
Ocasio-Cortez gained national attention earlier this year following an upset victory over veteran Rep. Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for the latter’s New York seat.
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.