An advertisement showing the image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez bursting into flames aired during ABC's Democratic debate in Houston on Thursday, prompting a heated response from viewers.
The 30-second ad, from a Republican-affiliated PAC named New Faces GOP, features its founder Elizabeth Heng, a former GOP congressional candidate in California, warning about liberal politicians who embrace socialism.
"This is the face of socialism and ignorance," Heng says as a photo of Ocasio-Cortez catches fire and burns away to show harrowing images from the Cambodian Civil War in the 1970s from which her father fled.
"Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know the horrors of socialism? Heng continues. My father was minutes from death in Cambodia before a forced marriage saved his life. Thats socialism: Forced obedience. Starvation. Mine is a face of freedom. My skin is not white. Im not outrageous, racist, nor socialist. Im a Republican."
It appears the ad ran on at least one Sinclair station in the Washington, D.C., area.
Social media buzzed with criticism after the ad aired, with many angry that ABC allowed it to air.
ABC can go to hell. Running propaganda with a picture of @AOC being set on fire, with dead bodies & skulls in the background, was absolutely despicable. People need to be fired over this. Its ridiculous & evil. ABC profited off of it, during the #DemDebate. Shame on ABC. Shame. pic.twitter.com/o7msRtQI3JScott Dworkin (@funder) September 13, 2019
A spokesperson for ABC News did not immediately return a request for comment.
Ocaso-Cortez took to Twitter to react to the ad.
"Republicans are running TV ads setting pictures of me on fire to convince people they arent racist. Life is weird!" Ocasio-Cortez wrote. "Know that this wasnt an ad for young conservatives of color - that was the pretense. What you just watched was a love letter to the GOPs white supremacist case."
Heng shot back at Ocasio-Cortez, tweeting, "Not Republicans. Me. Are you really calling me a racist @aoc? Im calling all Democrats out for supporting an evil ideology. Or are you just in Congress to hang out with celebrities and tweet out ridiculous ideas like the green new deal?"
Not Republicans. Me. Are you really calling me a racist @aoc? Im calling all Democrats out for supporting an evil ideology. Or are you just in Congress to hang out with celebrities and tweet out ridiculous ideas like the green new deal? https://t.co/w985LYjIZdElizabeth Heng (@ElizabethHeng) September 13, 2019
Heng was a candidate for Congress in 2018, vying for a seat representing California's 16th Congressional District. She lost to Democrat Jim Costa by 15 percentage points.
New Faces GOP is registered in Fresno, California, and Federal Election Commission filings show it raised roughly $170,000 in the first half of the year.
On its website, the PAC says it was formed "because our country is at risk of being destroyed by extreme, socialist Democrats who want to upend the American way of life. If we are going to compete on the battlefield of ideas, we must find new faces from the Republican Party stand up to lead."