Rep. Lacy Clay (D., Mo.) laid into his Democratic colleague Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Thursday for her comments accusing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of racism.
The New York freshman sparked controversy Wednesday by suggesting that Pelosi's criticisms of her, as well as Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.)—all women of color—had to do with their race.
"When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood," Ocasio-Cortez told reporters. "But the persistent singling out… it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful… the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color."
Ocasio Cortez backed off those comments somewhat the next day, saying Pelosi was "absolutely not" acting out of racial animus, and insisting she was just "pointing out a pattern."
"We're not talking just about progressives, it's singling out four individuals and knowing the media environment we're operating in, knowing the amount of death threats we get, knowing the amount of concentration of attention, I think it's worth asking why," she told CNN's Manu Raju.
Pelosi herself avoided weighing in on the dust-up during her weekly press conference, telling a reporter who tried to ask her about Ocasio-Cortez that he was wasting his question.
"We respect the value of every member of our caucus," she said. "The diversity of it all is a wonderful thing. Diversity is our strength, unity is our power, and we have a big fight, and we're in the arena. And that's all I'm gonna say on the subject."
But Clay—himself an African-American member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus—was not satisfied, telling reporters in the Speaker's Lobby that Ocasio-Cortez was "juvenile" and ignorant.
"You're getting push back so you resort to using the race card? Unbelievable," he said.
Clay's comment comes a day after the Justice Democrats endorsed his 2020 primary opponent Cori Bush and a month after Ocasio-Cortez traveled to his district to campaign for Bush.
"It is a replay of the 2010 Tea Party movement for the Democrats," Clay complained to the Wall Street Journal in response, referencing the Republican intra-party conflicts that emerged from the 2010 grassroots conservative movement.