Hosting reporters for lunch at the White House ahead of his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Donald Trump spoke on a variety of topics — including a possible change in the Senate’s Democratic caucus.
According to Fox News‘ Bret Baier, Trump suggested Tuesday that if Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) primaried Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for his Senate seat in 2022, AOC would give the long-time New York senator a run for his money.
“I think she will kick his a**,” the president told reporters, according to Fox.
A replacement for Schumer?
According to Baier, Trump gave a preview of his speech to a group of media personalities at the Tuesday lunch before speaking off-the-record on a variety of topics. But the president was willing to share publicly his thoughts on an AOC Senate run in 2022, when Schumer is next up for re-election.
Trump suggested that Schumer would be easily defeated by AOC, a first-term, far-left progressive Democrat who has made a name for herself since her 2018 win as a staunch detractor of President Trump. Like her fellow “Squad” member Ayanna Pressley, who represents Massachusetts in the House, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t attend Trump’s State of the Union on Tuesday evening.
“None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it,” Ocasio-Cortez, 30, said of her decision, according to Politico.
Schumer, for his part, has served in Congress for decades. The 69-year-old currently sits as the Senate’s minority leader, often putting him at odds with Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
AOC vs. Cryin’ Chuck
Requests for comment on Trump’s prediction went unanswered by both Ocasio-Cortez and Schumer’s offices, according to the New York Post. But were Ocasio-Cortez to take on and defeat Schumer in a 2022 primary challenge, it wouldn’t be the first time a long-serving establishment leader was taken out by the charismatic upstart.
AOC faced off in a primary — and won — against 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in 2018 before going on to win the U.S. House seat for New York’s 14th District, which encompasses parts of Queens and the Bronx.
But will she do it again? Just a couple of weeks ago, Russell Berman of The Atlantic posed the question: “Does Chuck Schumer have an AOC problem?”
Berman pointed to Schumer’s surprising vote in opposition to Trump’s NAFTA replacement, the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), as evidence that he may be shoring up his left flank; the senator said he couldn’t support the trade deal without it including a provision to address climate change. Meanwhile, climate change has been one of Ocasio-Cortez’s top concerns as a congresswoman, and activists have long pressed for establishment Dems like Schumer to do more in that regard.
Say what you will about Ocasio-Cortez’s leftist progressive policies, but there is little denying that she is incredibly charismatic and clearly driven to enact substantial change — pretty much the opposite of Schumer, who seems to be gearing up for a tough battle ahead. But can AOC take the heat in the Senate?