Watch CBS News

Rep. Ilhan Omar accuses Don Samuels of "sexism" based on podcast comments about her appearance

Rep. Omar accuses Don Samuels of “sexism” in podcast comments
Rep. Omar accuses Don Samuels of “sexism” in podcast comments 02:36

MINNEAPOLIS — Rep. Ilhan Omar has accused her opponent in the 5th District, Don Samuels, of "misogyny" and "lies and sexism" based on a recent podcast appearance.

Samuels, a former Minneapolis City Council member who unsuccessfully challenged Omar in the 2022 Democratic primary, went on "The Break Down with Brodkorb and Becky" Nov. 21 to discuss his campaign.

During a passionate tangent about accountability in government, Samuels made comments seemingly targeting Omar's appearance.

"And so to see government not be responsive like that to the people who pay them, it is offensive to me," Samuels said. "And to not be responsive and available to those people? To meet with them and find out what their concerns are and to answer their tough questions? To not get back to people on the phone? Who do you think you are? And who do you think you're working for? You're not cute enough, you don't dress well enough, nothing about you is attractive enough to overcome that deficit."

"This is beneath the dignity of any adult, let alone someone seeking public office," Omar said in response. "It is reminiscent of the worst kinds of lies and misogyny that we are hearing from people like Donald Trump, who think they can say anything about women and get away with it. Like Trump, instead of engaging in an adult debate, Don relies on lies and sexism. We need civility now more than ever and Don's behavior should be alarming to anyone who agrees."

"This is an attempt to mischaracterize a response about politicians who talk the talk versus walk the walk," Samuels said. "In listening to my full answer, it's abundantly clear that I'm talking broadly about politicians who value their own celebrity over the needs of their constituents. We shouldn't be surprised Rep. Ilhan Omar saw herself in my response. I strongly encourage everyone to listen to the interview for themselves."

Samuels in the podcast said he's ready to debate Omar, and said he will let her pick the time and place, as long as it's open to everybody. Samuels, appearing on WCCO Sunday Morning a few weeks back, criticized Omar for what he characterized as the inaccessibility of her "town hall"-style events.

Rep. Omar's team disagrees with Samuels criticism for her lack of town halls, stating she has hosted one every quarter in 2023 and was awarded in 2020 for hosting such events in the year prior.

The website for "The Break Down" describes it as providing "a unique insight into politics, policies, and news of the day by injecting humor, personal stories, and blunt analysis of the political environment — all with a refreshing and entertaining perspective." Michael Brodkorb, one of the hosts, is a former deputy chair for the Republican Party of Minnesota. The other host, Becky Scherr, worked on several Republican campaigns and served as both communications director and executive director of the Republican Party of Minnesota. 

Samuels lost the primary in 2022 by about 2,500 votes. He announced earlier this month he would challenge Omar again. The others who have announced they are running for the 5th Congressional District seat are Dalia Al Quida, a journalist running for the GOP, and for the DFL, attorney Sarah Gad and Air Force veteran Tim Peterson.

Note: The video above originally aired Nov. 13, 2023.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.