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Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib got some free exposure on Thursday night’s debate stage. Photo: 
Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib got some free exposure on Thursday night’s debate stage. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

AOC’s Squad lives rent-free in Trump’s mind on the debate stage

“Living in his head rent free is something,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley wrote.

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It’s probably the only instance of fair housing where the GOP is concerned. 

Last night, President Donald Trump and former vice-President Joe Biden took the Presidential debate stage, thankfully, for the last time. 

But there were more than just the two of them on the stage. 

Again, the world witnessed the tiring and unsurprising lies by the president, as he attempted to feed the nation a version of his own constructed reality. Again, the world watched Joe Biden’s slow retorts, as he too made a few false or misleading claims, according to CNN’s dedicated fact-checker Daniel Dale, but this time with the assertion that “from a lying perspective, Trump is even worse tonight than in the first debate.”

So let’s not dive into the serial untruths.

What was reinforced and made plain, however, was Trump’s downright fascination with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the Squad, and everything it stands for: Powerful women — women of color, at that — and a leader that in three years, has amassed more popularity relative to anyone else in the halls of Congress.

“If someone told me 3 years ago, while I was waitressing to help my family stay afloat, that in a few short years an unhinged President of the United States would be repeatedly saying my name at the 2020 debate, I would’ve brought them some water and told them to sober up,” Rep. AOC wrote on Twitter at the end of the debate.

Again, the New York rep may as well have been up on the debate stage, as Trump continued his charade of conflating progressive policies like the Green New Deal with the Biden-Harris campaign.

He is a man obsessed with trying to derail Biden’s bid by presenting it as a ticket aligned with the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Squad, and skewing lines altogether, even elevating Sen. Kamala Harris as further left than Sanders himself. 

“AOC plus three,” Trump said during the Climate Change segment. As with the first trainwreck of a presidential debate, he couldn’t keep Rep. AOC’s nickname out of his mouth, and it was unwanted on various fronts.

“AOC is a name given to me by community [and] the people. Y’all can call me AOC. Government colleagues referring to each other in a public or professional context (aka who don’t know me like that) should refer to their peers as ‘Congresswoman,’ Representative, etc. Basic respect 101.”

Rep. AOC has discussed this in the past, most recently when Vice President Mike Pence referenced the Green New Deal amid his debate with Sen. Harris. 

It’s an informal nickname given with fondness. Something the likes of Trump or Pence are unable to utter in that capacity. 

Their informality also contributes to the disrespect of women that has been broadcast for weeks on the national debate stage in the past weeks. 

In the first debate, the Green New Deal was mentioned an incredible eight times by moderator Chris Wallace, Trump, and Biden, never once crediting its drafter, Rep. AOC. 

In the second, Pence both mentioned AOC informally and perfectly demonstrated what women — especially Black women — must put up with every day, from mansplaining to repeated interruptions highlighted by the presence of both a female opponent and moderator. 

And last night, Trump evoked the name of AOC twice, disparagingly, while not mentioning the names of the rest of the Squad, instead merely attributing them to “plus three.”

“I mean, she’s got a good line of stuff, but she knows nothing about the climate and they’re all hopping through hoops for AOC plus three,” Trump said. 

The GOP has what can only be called a strange obsession with Rep. AOC (D-NY), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D- MI), and it works opposite of what Republicans want to accomplish.

Trump especially knows the power of self-marketing, and in this case, he’s selling the Squad’s stuff pretty well — for free.

It gave AOC the chance to promote her merch, for instance. 

“Oh, I’ve got a good line of stuff alright,” she wrote.

But the Green New Deal, again, attained exposure at a national level. While not explicitly named, everyone knew that it is AOC’s climate policy discussed for a large portion of the segment

Trump called it crazy. But that’s only true in the sense that it’s the most ambitious environmental justice legislation in this nation’s history. And it’s not only “AOC plus three,” the congresswomen made it clear Thursday night that “it’s actually AOC plus 115,”  the number of House and Senate members who have co-sponsored her plan.

While Biden tried to center the debate on his own climate plan, of which Rep. AOC is co-chair of its task force, the idea to consider is that the resulting confusion is due to the overwhelming exposure that the Green New Deal has amassed, compared to Biden’s which, frankly, the masses cannot recall the name of.

The constant invocation of Rep. AOC, the Squad, and the Green New Deal is free exposure, and it keeps the conversation going on one of the most pressing issues of this generation.

Call them squatters, but Trump’s not doing anything to get them all out of his head.

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