WASHINGTON – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's outrage over a Republican lawmaker’s verbal assault broadened into an extraordinary moment on the House floor Thursday as she and other Democrats assailed a sexist culture of “accepting violence and violent language against women” whose adherents include President Donald Trump.
A day after rejecting an offer of contrition from Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., for his language during this week's Capitol steps confrontation, Ocasio-Cortez and more than a dozen colleagues cast the incident as all-too-common behavior by men, including Trump and other Republicans.
“This issue is not about one incident. It is cultural,” said Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., calling it a culture “of accepting a violence and violent language against women, an entire structure of power that supports that.”
The remarkable outpouring, with female lawmakers saying they'd routinely encountered such treatment, came in an election year in which polls show women leaning decisively against Trump, who has a history of mocking women.
“I personally have experienced a lifetime of insults, racism and sexism,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. “And believe me, this did not stop after being elected to public office.”
Trump was captured in a 2005 tape boasting about physically abusing women, and his disparagement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has included calling her “crazy.” In an apparent reference to that tape, which drew attention during the 2016 presidential campaign, Ocasio-Cortez said men accost women “with a sense of impunity” every day, including when “individuals who hold the highest office in this land admit, admit to hurting women.”
She also recalled that last year, Trump said she and three colleagues on the “squad" of progressive Democratic women of color should “go back" to their home countries — even though all but one were born in the U.S. and all are American citizens.
The lawmakers joining Ocasio-Cortez represented a wide range of the chamber's Democrats, underscoring their unity over an issue that is at once core to the party and capable of energizing its voters.