Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) ripped into President Donald Trump’s decision to honor Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. And she said honoring the right-wing radio host justified her decision to skip the event.
Limbaugh has a long history of making racist and xenophobic comments, but Trump hailed him as “a special man, beloved by millions” as he bestowed the highest civilian award issued by the president. The honor came one day after Limbaugh said he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer.
Ocasio-Cortez called the medal “an extraordinarily sacred award” and noted that previous recipients have included civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
“Rush Limbaugh is a virulent racist,” she said in a video on Instagram.
Trump’s decision to give the award at the State of the Union ― rather than at a dedicated ceremony as was typically done ― “cheapens the value” of the honor, she said.
Ocasio-Cortez also mocked Limbaugh’s seeming surprise, given that there had been media reports throughout the day that it would happen.
“He had to pretend that this was some kind of Oprah moment,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez argued that there were others in the audience who were far more deserving of the honor, yet Trump chose Limbaugh as “red meat to his base.”
“Trump knows what he’s doing,” she said. “He wants to assert that Rush Limbaugh is somehow on the same level as Rosa Parks and it’s truly nauseating and this is one of the many reasons why I did not go.”