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AOC leaves door open to primarying Schumer in 2022

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In an interview this week, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) left the door open to primarying Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for his U.S. Senate seat in 2022.

The congresswoman from New York City was asked if she had a timeline for deciding whether or not to challenge Schumer and his more than 20-year tenure in the Senate in 2022 and if she believed he was doing a good job.

“It’s a hard thing to say, too. We’ve had to deal with a fascist president and Mitch McConnell,” Ocasio-Cortez told the newly launched Punchbowl News. “There’s this thing, ‘Are we doing a good job?’ There are things you can do in the minority. There are also things you couldn’t do with this minority because Senate rules changed.”

“I like to think of myself as a good-faith actor and not make unfair critiques. But I do wonder,” she added.

RELATED: AOC says Pelosi, Schumer need to go

“I’m not playing coy or anything like that. I’m still very much in a place where I’m trying to decide what is the most effective thing I can do to help our Congress, our [political] process, and our country actually address the issues of climate change, health care, wage inequality, etc.,” Ocasio-Cortez also said.

When asked about whether her decision would be affected if Democrats appear likely to lose their House majority in 2022, Ocasio-Cortez replied: “I’m not sure about that either. For me, I don’t make these decisions based on these short-term factors.”

The 31-year-old congresswoman also explained to the newsletter that she is looking beyond the next couple of years in her life and career, saying: “If I want to have a child, I would want my child—or my nieces or nephews to have guaranteed health care by the time they’re my age. And freedom from want. I’m also very indecisive.”

When asked about her relationship with Schumer, the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, the congresswoman told Punchbowl that “[h]e and I have an open relationship, we speak to each other regularly.”

These remarks come after the self-described Democratic socialist last month stated that Democrats need “new leadership.” She noted, however, that “the House is extraordinarily complex, and I’m not ready. It can’t be me. I know that I couldn’t do that job.”

Ocasio-Cortez shot to fame during the 2018 midterm elections, when she shockingly unseated the incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, a then-member of the House Democrats’ leadership who had been in Congress since 1999, becoming the darling of progressives. She easily won reelection in November, and in recent months there has been speculation surrounding what’s next for the 31-year-old rising star.

Despite the viral fame and massive following that Ocasio-Cortez has found on social media, the political power she holds is still finite. Last month, the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee voted to seat Long Island, N.Y. Rep. Kathleen Ricea moderate—on the coveted House Energy and Commerce Committee instead of Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the Bronx and Queens.

Ocasio-Cortez has previously refused to rule out running for Schumer’s seat. When asked back in April if she would rule out a 2022 campaign against Democrats’ leader in the Senate, she responded by saying “I don’t know.”

She has also said in the past that she was not thinking of the Senate “in any serious way.”

The head of the New York State Democratic Party, Jay Jacobs, however, is urging Ocasio-Cortez not to challenge Schumer in 2022. In December, Jacobs told The New York Post that the young congresswoman would “absolutely” lose in such a bid.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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