A dramatic ad targeting Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aired during the third Democratic debate on Thursday, comparing Ocasio-Cortez's support for democratic socialism to the brutal Khmer Rouge communist regime in Cambodia.
The ad shows a picture of the young congresswoman bursting into flames to reveal a picture of a pile of skulls. The narrator of the ad, onetime Republican congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng, is the daughter of Cambodian immigrants.
"This is the face of socialism and ignorance," Heng says in a voiceover as the picture of Ocasio-Cortez burns. "Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know the horror of socialism?"
The ad was produced by New Faces GOP, a newly created Republican super PAC. In the ad, Heng describes her parents' experience under the 1970s Pol Pot regime, during which a quarter of the population died.
"My father was minutes away from death in Cambodia," Heng says in the ad. "That's socialism. Forced obedience, starvation."
In the ad, Heng also hits back against criticism that the Republican Party has supported racist policies.
"Mine is a face of freedom. My skin is not white. I'm not outrageous, racist, or socialist," Heng says. "I'm a Republican."
Critics have questioned why ABC allowed the advertisement to air during the debate. Ocasio-Cortez immediately slammed the ad, saying: "Republicans are running TV ads setting pictures of me on fire to convince people they aren't racist."
"Know that this wasn't an ad for young conservatives of color - that was the pretense. What you just watched was a love letter to the GOP's white supremacist case," Ocasio-Cortez wrote in another tweet.
Ocasio-Cortez also excoriated ABC and Sinclair television stations for carrying the ad.
"GOP's message: No policy, no facts, just displays of violence + corporations like @ABCNetwork & Sinclair who amplify them. They profit from burning my likeness on TV. But who pays for heightened security? Who answers the phones for the threats resulting from a violent, false ad?" Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Friday morning.
Heng replied, ".@aoc response is the Democratic party in a nutshell. They are more offended by truthful words than the acts of their political ideology that has killed millions of innocent victims. I don't care about @AOC feelings - I care about stopping her lies about the lies of socialism."