By Julia Musto
Published July 26, 2019
Even after a 30-minute Kumbaya meeting Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and freshman firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., cannot erase their differences forever, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace predicted.
Appearing Friday on “America’s Newsroom”—both before and after Pelosi’s news conference on Capitol Hill—Wallace told host Bill Hemmer that she does politics the “old fashioned way” and Ocasio-Cortez, decidedly, does not. He said Ocasio-Cortez and other freshmen progressives are looking toward “more dramatic changes.”
“There’s a very different view of politics, very different view of the direction of the party. But, I think that both of them—and certainly Pelosi—believes if you’re going to have this fight, have it inside the tent. Don’t have it outside the tent, where it splits the party and weakens the party and its efforts to re-win election and hold on to the majority in 2020.”
Pelosi is 79 and Ocasio-Cortez is 29; there are 50 years between them and they’ve gotten off to a rough start. Signs of tensions between the two political dynamos have been visible from the time of Ocasio-Cortez's congressional orientation, when she joined a climate protest outside Pelosi's office.
During an interview with “The New York Times,” Pelosi criticized Ocasio-Cortez and the recently nicknamed progressive “Squad” after its four members voted against a version of a border funding bill that Pelosi promoted. Pelosi noted that the group was only four people strong. Ocasio-Cortez, in turn, accused her of “singling out” women of color.
Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff took to Twitter to criticize the Speaker and other centrist Democrats. Pelosi then called out Ocasio-Cortez and the other three freshman congresswoman in a caucus meeting: "You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it," Pelosi said, according to a source in the room. "But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK."
Ocasio-Cortez responded by saying it was “outright disrespectful” for Pelosi to repeatedly single out newly elected women of color.
“It got kind of nasty,” Wallace said.
Following special counsel Robert Mueller’s public testimony on Wednesday, President Trump told reporters the Democratic Party is in shambles: “They've got the Squad leading their party. They are a mess. This was a devastating day. For the Democrats. The Democrats thought they could win an election like this. I think they hurt themselves very badly for 2020.”
But, with the barrage of attacks from President Trump and the standing of the Democratic Party at stake, an olive branch was extended. Pelosi said their meeting was “nice” and Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, said, “It was a very positive and productive meeting about progressive priorities.” Pelosi told reporters, “I don’t think we have that many differences.” She said there was never any “hatchet to bury.”
“I think that they will try to turn down the heat and get along more,” Wallace said. “But there are some differences here and you can’t erase them forever. And, they’ll come back up—particularly as we get into 2020 and the direction of the party both in terms of the presidential candidacy and also in terms of the House and the message it’s sending out as it tries to—Democrats hold on to the majority.”
Reacting to Pelosi’s Capitol Hill news conference Friday morning, Wallace called her post-meeting appearance a “master class.” He told Hemmer that the legislative leader showed “real confidence and competence” handling the “split” with the Squad, “herding cats,” and tackling “diverse elements.”
“The line she used, Bill, that I thought was very interesting, she said, ‘I am pushing the boldest common denominator.’ Because, obviously the left feels she’s not moving far enough, fast enough,” he added.
“We always have to remember: for all the attention that the Squad has gotten, the reason that the Democrats took back the House was because of the moderates: the people, the Democrats, who won in districts that Donald Trump won in 2018.
“Nancy Pelosi, has to kind of ride herd on all of that diversity and all of their political views. And, more importantly, all of their political interests because what will help Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with her voters in Queens is not what’s going to help a more moderate Democrat in a much more moderate district.”