Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Sunday questioned the Democratic old guard's credibility on gender issues, citing former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Joe Biden.
On ABC's This Week, the freshman Democrat took issue with Clinton getting a "pass" on his sexual misconduct and Biden causing women "discomfort" with how he touched them. She told anchor Jonathan Karl that Biden not being suspected of serious sexual misconduct doesn't mean he's "sufficiently answered" accusations from women of inappropriate touching.
"I think that is an issue where there is a struggle, I'll be completely honest. I don't think he has—I wouldn't say it's an incredibly severe—like I don't think voters think that he's necessarily guilty of sexual misconduct or anything like that," Ocasio-Cortez said. "I do think that there may be some discomfort, especially seeing some clips this week and, you know the week before, telling a 13-year-old, telling her brothers to watch out for her, and I think there are some things with female voters that it's just not quite locked down."
She went on to talk about how there's a "cultural evolution" going on in the United States and she doesn't believe it's about "being punitive" in these situations, prompting Karl to ask whether she believes Biden has conveyed his feelings about this yet.
"I don't think he's necessarily convinced all women, but I also don't think that he's, you know—people tend to interpret these situations as completely one way or another," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Is he a bad person or is he a good person? I don't think it's about that."
Ocasio-Cortez said she would support Biden if we won the nomination but didn't appear to signal support for him compared to the other candidates. She said she'd prefer a Democratic nominee who is "exciting" to everyone regardless of their gender, race, or income bracket.
Karl also asked about Biden's reversal on the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for abortion. Ocasio-Cortez said supporting federal funds for abortion should be a baseline for all candidates, and she rolled out the novel argument that it is "not about abortion."
"Well, I'm encouraged by the fact that [Biden] is now against the Hyde Amendment. I think it's a very base level where all candidates need to be," Ocasio-Cortez said. "I'm excited to be introducing a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, via amendment—we'll see where it goes—for incarcerated women and the maternal and reproductive health care of incarcerated women should be guaranteed as it is with all women in the United States."
"The Hyde Amendment is not about abortion per se," she added. "The Hyde Amendment is truly about equality of health care and health care access for low-income women and women of color and women that get caught in our mass incarceration system."
Karl directly asked whether Democrats made a mistake in giving president Clinton a pass for almost two decades despite numerous allegations of sexual misconduct and his impeachment after lying under oath about a sexual relationship with a White House intern. Ocasio-Cortez said, "probably," and then shifted the conversation to the gender pay gap, paid leave, and the treatment of Anita Hill during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
"I think that when it comes to President Clinton—I think that it's not just Democrats. I think that we have historically, from Anita Hill to the present day, I think that women have historically beared [sic] a lot of difficulty, adversity in the work place," she said.