Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn't suffer fools.
On Thursday night, the New York congressional candidate dismissed the conservative cabal calling on her to debate right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro with a tweet, explaining that she owes nothing to "men with bad intentions."
"Just like catcalling, I don't owe a response to unsolicited requests from men with bad intentions," Ocasio-Cortez wrote. "And also like catcalling, for some reason they feel entitled to one."
Earlier this week, Shapiro challenged Ocasio-Cortez to a verbal sparring match on his talk show, offering her $10,000 if she agreed. “You’ve noted that you think Republicans are afraid to debate you or talk to you or discuss the issues with you,” Shapiro said in a video accompanying his provocation. “Not only am I eager to discuss the issues with you, I’m willing to offer $10,000 to your campaign, today, for you to come on our Sunday special. We can have an hour-long conversation about all the topics under the sun, really probe your belief system.”
In response to Ocasio-Cortez's subsequent tweet, Shapiro insisted it was in fact Ocasio-Cortez who was acting in bad faith, having compared his request for a debate to street harassment.
"Discussion and debate are not 'bad intentions,'" Shapiro argued. "Slandering someone as a sexist catcaller without reason or evidence does demonstrate cowardice and bad intent, however."
Ocasio-Cortez isn't shy about hitting back at her opponents on Twitter, but she's careful not to step into any conservative traps.
In the days following her primary upset, a cohost for a talk show associated with the right-wing site Newsmax tweeted out a photo of Ocasio-Cortez's family home in Yorktown Heights, accusing her of misleading supporters by claiming working-class roots.
"Your attempt to strip me of my family, my story, my home, and my identity is exemplary of how scared you are of the power of all four of those things," Ocasio-Cortez responded.
GOP politicians seem to find Ocasio-Cortez's rising stardom on the left especially threatening, and have tried to use her democratic socialist views to rally their base.
"You look at this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is, I mean, she’s in a totally different universe,” Florida Representative Ron DeSantis said at a July campaign event. “It’s basically socialism wrapped in ignorance.”
"Rep DeSantis, it seems you‘re confused as to 'whatever I am,'" Ocasio-Cortez later wrote on Twitter. "I am a Puerto Rican woman. It‘s strange you don’t know what that is, given that ~75,000 Puerto Ricans have relocated to Florida in the 10 mos since María. But I’m sure these new FL voters appreciate your comments!"
Ocasio-Cortez, who unseated a 10-term incumbent in her first-ever bid for office, is loath to let anyone write off her political credentials or question the movement her candidacy has sparked on the left.
“We know that the movement for working people—the movement for economic, social, and racial justice—knows no zip code, and we’re going to take that fight everywhere,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a rally for former Missouri congressional candidate Cori Bush. “We’re not just going to take that where it’s safe.”