White House counselor Kellyanne Conway took a shot Tuesday at Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying the incoming lawmaker “doesn’t seem to know much about anything.”
The remark from Conway, made while defending chief of staff John Kelly from an accusation of “cowardice” by Ocasio-Cortez, is the latest swipe by a top conservative against the New York Democrat, who has emerged as a central figure in the progressive movement and is a top critic of President Donald Trump.
“This country owes him a debt of gratitude,” Conway said Tuesday morning on “Fox & Friends,” referring to Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general who served in Iraq. “Not the nonsense that has been spewed about him even recently from the left and from this 29-year-old congresswoman who doesn’t seem to know much about anything when you ask her basic concepts about the economy, the Middle East, military funding — really embarrassing.”
A message left with Ocasio-Cortez’s office seeking a response was not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.
Conway didn’t mention any particular issues or instances, though Ocasio-Cortez started a minor controversy over the summer when she referred to Israel’s presence in parts of the region as an “occupation” and later acknowledged that she is not an “expert on geopolitics on this issue.”
Ocasio-Cortez addressed some of her critics prior to Conway’s comments Tuesday in a tweet on Monday, comparing the treatment of House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, when he was first elected to Congress in his 20s to the criticism she has faced during her own path to Capitol Hill.
“Double standards are Paul Ryan being elected at 28 and immediately being given the benefit of his ill-considered policies considered genius; and me winning a primary at 28 to immediately be treated with suspicion & scrutinized, down to my clothing, of being a fraud,” she said.
Trump announced on Saturday that Kelly would be departing his role as chief of staff at the end of the year. In response, California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee called for Kelly to apologize for comments he made about her fellow Democrat from Florida, Rep. Frederica Wilson, with whom Kelly engaged in a spat following the deaths of US service members in Niger.
Ocasio-Cortez echoed Lee’s statement in her own tweet.
“John Kelly was straight up exposed for lying about @RepWilson in comments aimed at discrediting her,” she wrote on Twitter on Monday. “He absolutely owes her an apology, and his refusal to do so isn’t a sign of strength – it’s cowardice.”
Conway, without naming Ocasio-Cortez, called the criticism of Kelly a “slur” Tuesday.
“But let me stand up for Gen. John Kelly,” Conway said. “He’s done a magnificent job for this country, for almost 50 years. And that includes here in the White House as our chief of staff for about a year and a half.”