GOP Group Responds to Criticism Over Their Ad That Showed Burning Image of Ocasio-Cortez

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
September 13, 2019 Updated: September 13, 2019

The founder of a new Republican-affiliated political action committee (PAC) has defended her controversial ad that aired during last night’s Democratic primary debate showing a burning image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The ad received widespread condemnation and sparked calls to boycott ABC.

The ad was created and paid for by New Faces GOP, a PAC started by former Republican congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng, who hopes to use the platform to “help elevate the next generation of Republicans” in order to fight the extreme and socialist ideology that is threatening the American way of life, according to the group’s website.

“New Faces GOP was formed because our country is at risk of being destroyed by extreme, socialist Democrats who want to upend the American way of life,” the website states. “If we are going to compete on the battlefield of ideas, we must find new faces from the Republican Party stand up to lead.”

In the 30-second ad narrated by Heng, an image of Ocasio-Cortez is seen lighting on fire as Heng says, “This is the face of socialism and ignorance.”

“Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know the horror of socialism?” Heng continues as the ad segues to scenes showing skulls and devastation caused by Cambodia’s communist Khmer Rouge regime.

“My father was minutes from death in Cambodia before a forced marriage saved his life. That’s socialism—Forced obedience. Starvation,” she added.

The commercial then goes to Heng, who then says, “Mine is a face of freedom. My skin is not white. I’m not outrageous, racist, nor socialist. I’m a Republican.”

The ad immediately received widespread criticism from viewers and Ocasio-Cortez, who said, “Republicans are running TV ads setting pictures of me on fire to convince people they aren’t racist. Life is weird!”

Many viewers also questioned ABC’s decision to broadcast the ad, with some slamming the network and calling the commercial inappropriate.

In a separate post, Ocasio-Cortez said, “Know that this wasn’t an ad for young conservatives of color—that was the pretense. What you just watched was a love letter to the GOP’s white supremacist case.”

Responding to Ocasio-Cortez, Heng, who ran for the California’s 16th Congressional District last year, question the New York freshman congresswoman on her comments: “Are you really calling me a racist @aoc?”

“I’m calling all Democrats out for supporting an evil ideology. Or are you just in Congress to hang out with celebrities and tweet out ridiculous ideas like the green new deal?” Heng wrote.

In another post on Sept. 13, Heng defended her commercial while criticizing Ocasio-Cortez’s response.

“@aoc response is the Democratic party in a nutshell. They are more offended by truthful words than the acts of their political ideology that has killed millions of innocent victims. I don’t care about @AOC feelings – I care about stopping her lies about the lies of socialism,” Heng wrote.

Heng did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

During the 2018 general elections, Heng lost to the incumbent Democratic candidate Jim Costa by about 22,000 votes.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.