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AOC blasts McConnell over photo of young men in 'Team Mitch' shirts 'choking' cutout

ABC News logo ABC News 8/6/2019
a person holding a microphone: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a vigil for the victims of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in Brooklyn on Aug. 5, 2019. © Drew Angerer/Getty Images, FILE Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a vigil for the victims of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in Brooklyn on Aug. 5, 2019.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., confronted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Twitter after a photo surfaced Monday night on social media showing a group of what she said were young men wearing “Team Mitch” shirts “groping and choking” a cardboard cutout of her.

(MORE: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter lesson for House Democrats)

“Hey @senatemajldr – these young men look like they work for you,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

“Just wanted to clarify: are you paying for young men to practice groping & choking members of Congress w/ your payroll,” she asked, “or is this just the standard culture of #TeamMitch?”

The photograph went viral by Twitter username @emrazz with a caption, ““Break me off a piece of that.”

McConnell’s campaign, however, is denying any involvement with the group of young men.

In a statement provided to ABC News, McConnell’s campaign manager Kevin Golden says the young men in the photo are high schoolers and not employed by the campaign. He added that the campaign does not “condone” this behavior, but did not specifically denounce it either.

Mitch McConnell wearing a suit and tie: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to a series of votes at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 1, 2019. © Win Mcnamee/Getty Images Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to a series of votes at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 1, 2019.

“We've watched for years as the far-left and the media look for every possible way to demonize, stereotype, and publicly castigate every young person who dares to get involved with Republican politics,” Golden said. “Team Mitch in no way condones any aggressive, suggestive, or demeaning act toward life sized cardboard cutouts of any gender in a manner similar to what we saw from President Obama's speech writing staff several years ago.”

The teens are supporters who attended an annual political picnic in Kentucky.

Ocasio-Cortez has been critical of McConnell since becoming a member of Congress, most recently calling him out for failing to bring a Senate vote on a gun control bill following the deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that have left at least 31 dead.

(MORE: Alleged shooter cased El Paso Walmart before rampage that killed 22: Officials)

“The House passed HR8, a Bipartisan Background Checks Act, *5 months ago* and the Senate has yet to vote on it,” she tweeted. “It was one of our 1st major priorities after ending the gov shutdown. You’ve been sitting on it since February giving bogus excuses. Care to explain the people why?”

The freshman congresswoman was responding to a tweet from McConnell in which he offered condolences to the victims of the El Paso shooting.

“The entire nation is horrified by today’s senseless violence,” the majority leader tweeted. “Elaine’s and my prayers go out to the victims of this terrible violence, their families and friends, and the brave first responders who charged into harm’s way.”

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