AOC was maskless at a crowded Miami bar over the holiday, according to photos first published in the National Review on Thursday. Now, Republicans are slamming the Democratic politician.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has been a fierce defender of masking policies since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as the Omicron variant continues to surge nationwide, critics this week blasted the Congresswoman’s conduct as “hypocritical.”
There were two sets of photos. The first set of pictures, reportedly captured outside the Doraku Sushi and Izakaya bar in Miami Beach, appear to show the Bronx representative sitting outdoors with boyfriend Riley Roberts enjoying a cocktail.
On Sunday, the controversy carried on, when a conservative pundit posted a video that appeared to show AOC on the crowded patio of a different bar, waving to applauding patrons. Some critics say the photos on the crowded patio are far more concerning.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez responded to critics on Twitter in a series of posts Friday, calling her detractors “creepy weirdos” who were “projecting their sexual frustrations” onto her private life.
AOC Was Maskless in Miami
According to the original report in the National Review, the two-term Congresswoman was spotted in the outdoor seating area of a Japanese restaurant and bar in Miami Beach on Thursday afternoon.
The photos were taken by an “anonymous” member of the public and submitted to the outlet that same day. The Review also noted that AOC’s home state of New York reported a record number of Covid cases on Dec. 30 while she vacationed in Florida.
While the Empire State generally — and New York City specifically — are revamping their public masking and vaccination requirements to combat the latest variant of the virus, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration has historically rejected Covid-safety measures. Just last month, the Republican signed a law preventing employers from requiring proof of vaccination from workers.
Critics Say AOC is a Hypocrite
DeSantis and other Florida Republicans mocked AOC after the photos went public last week, accusing her of taking advantage of the lax public health guidelines in their state while supporting more stringent measures for her own constituency.
“Welcome to Florida, AOC,” wrote DeSantis’ staffers on Twitter. “We hope you’re enjoying a taste of freedom here in the Sunshine State thanks to @RonDeSantisFL’s leadership.”
“.@AOC’s New York state of mind clearly doesn’t mind being in the free state of Florida…mask free of course,” Republican Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez tweeted on Friday.
AOC Responds After Criticism
On Friday, Ocasio-Cortez returned fire to her critics on social media, starting with Governor DeSantis’ staff.
“Hasn’t Gov. DeSantis been inexplicably missing for like 2 weeks?” she wrote in a quote tweet. “If he’s around, I would be happy to say hello. His social media team seems to have been posting old photos for weeks.”
The Republican Governor has since said he was accompanying his wife during her breast cancer treatment for the last several weeks.
“I’d also be happy to share some notes from @GovKathyHochul’s work in NY since he seems to be in need of tips!” she added in a reply.
The Congresswoman also shot back at right-wing media figure Steve Cortes, who complained that the photos showed “[her boyfriend’s] gross, pale male feet in public (not at a pool/beach) with hideous sandals.”
“If Republicans are mad they can’t date me they can just say that instead of projecting their sexual frustrations onto my boyfriend’s feet,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “Ya creepy weirdos.”
She continued in a followup post: “It’s starting to get old ignoring the very obvious, strange, and deranged sexual frustrations that underpin the Republican fixation on me, women,& LGBT+ people in general.”
“These people clearly need therapy, won’t do it, and use politics as their outlet instead. It’s really weird,” the Democrat added.
On Sunday, new photos circulated showing AOC on the crowded patio of a second bar. Those pictures were more disturbing to some because she seemed to be standing near a number of people.
By Monday, DeSantis weighed in, as well. “If I had a dollar for every lockdown politician who decided to escape to Florida over the last two years, I’d be a pretty doggone wealthy man,” said the Governor.
Meanwhile, Covid cases are reaching unprecedented levels in the Sunshine State under DeSantis’ watch. According to data collated by The New York Times and published by Google, Florida posted more than 75,000 new cases of the virus on Dec. 30, the day AOC was maskless at the sushi bar.