Representative Ilhan Omar had time on Friday to fire back at President Donald Trump after months of campaign rallies where he used her as a punching bag and leveled dozens of overtly racist insults toward the congresswoman.
Throughout his campaign, Trump used Omar's identity as a Black Muslim woman to galvanize his largely white base. Trump not only called her "crazy," but a "horrible woman who hates our country."
"One of the reason's we're going to win Minnesota: Ilhan Omar," he said at a recent rally before November 3.
He routinely led "Send Her Back" chants at his rallies and devoted significant parts of his campaign speeches to bashing her.
Ironically enough, Trump lost Minnesota handily on November 3, in part thanks to Omar's work. His opponent, Democratic candidate Joe Biden, won the state 52% to 45%.
In an interview with The Intercept's Ryan Grim, Omar explained why the party was able to secure a win in the state and spoke about Trump's grave misconceptions.
Grim asked her about Trump's comments suggesting her mere existence in the state would deliver him victory against Biden.
“He effed around and found out,” she said. "You get what you organize for and we've been massively organizing our state our district for this turnout."
She went on to explain that when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Biden's campaign decided to pull all of its in-person canvassing efforts in Minnesota and other crucial states, believing that everything could be done digitally or through the phone.
But Omar, and many other left-wing politicians in swing states like Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib, disagreed and told the Biden campaign that they would do the door-to-door campaigning themselves.
"They believed it could get done without door to door campaigning. You all don't have to be involved. I can do it all alone. You just have to trust that we can get it done here," she said she told the Biden campaign.
"I'm really proud of the fact that they allowed us to do that and didn't interfere," she added.
She also noted that after winning her own primary, she kept up her operation and still canvassed in high-traffic areas to push local voters to get registered and come out for Biden, which millions did.
Omar's efforts mirror those in other major cities like Detroit, Atlanta and Philadelphia, which may end up providing crucial votes to push Biden into the presidency.
Surprisingly, the very people delivering the election to Democrats are now facing criticism from their own party, according to The Washington Post. A number of conservative Democrats are angry that the party lost seats in both the House and Senate, and some believed that Biden should have won by a larger margin.
MSNBC analyst Claire McCaskill faced controversy this week when she criticized Democrats for focusing on issues important to Black, Latino and other minority voters.
"Whether you are talking guns or…abortion…or gay marriage and rights for 'transexuals' and other people who we as a party 'look after' and make sure they are treated fairly. As we circled the issues we left voters behind and Republicans dove in," she said.
On a widely-leaked call led by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other party leaders, conservative Democrats bashed Omar, Tlaib, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for speaking about issues like policing and the environment, saying it cost them their election because of the advertisements run by Republicans.
Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger leveled the harshest criticism, bashing her own fellow caucus members for making it difficult for conservative Democrats trying to win close races.
"We have to commit to not saying the words 'defund the police' ever again. We need to not ever use the words socialist or socialism ever again. It does matter, and we have lost good members because of that," the former CIA officer said on the call.
Spanberger tells Dems their words matter in House races: "We have to commit to not saying the words 'defund the police' ever again."
"We need to not ever use the words socialist or socialism ever again," she says. "It does matter, and we have lost good members because of that."
— Ben Siegel (@benyc) November 5, 2020
When asked by Grim about these criticisms and the larger view that left-wing members of the party were to blame for the loss of seats, Omar said the criticism wasn't aligned with outcomes of the past. She noted that Republicans used many of the same criticisms in this election that they threw at former President Barack Obama, yet he was still able to win conservative states like Florida.
"There is an autopsy that clearly has to get done. You'll hear people who will say that it was the talk of socialism, it was this it was that. But many of the places that we lost seats in or Biden didn't do so well in were places where Obama won and [Republicans] threw so much at him," she said.
"[They] said that he was a secret Muslim who was a socialist who was going to destroy this country. But he won places like Florida, and that was because he believed, as an organizer, in investing in a ground game. In having conversations, not shying away from the power of relational building," she added.
Like Omar, Ocasio-Cortez has responded to the criticism, writing a lengthy thread on Twitter explaining why leftist politics were not necessarily the reason behind the Democrats' losses.
Ocasio-Cortez noted that in addition to many Democrats shelving in-person campaigning, a significant number also spent almost nothing on digital advertising.
There are folks running around on TV blaming progressivism for Dem underperformance.
I was curious, so I decided to open the hood on struggling campaigns of candidates who are blaming progressives for their problems.
Almost all had awful execution on digital. DURING A PANDEMIC.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 6, 2020
"Ideology + messaging are the spicy convos a lot of people jump to but sometimes it’s about execution and technical capacity.Digital execution was not good, polls were off, ironically DCCC banned the firms who are the best in the country at Facebook bc they work w progressives!" Ocasio-Cortez wrote.
"Also, the decision to stop knocking doors is one people need to grapple with and analyze. @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib never stopped and may very well have helped delivered a Biden Presidency bc of it," she added.
Others online have noted that the protests around police violence and racism played an integral part in galvanizing Democratic voters, boosting voter registration and turnout.
The protests led to more political interest across the board, according to data, and protests in all 50 states had people in attendance who made a point of getting people registered to vote.
One more note. In May and June, when Dem voter registration had bottomed out due to the pandemic and GOPs were outregistering Dems, it was the George Floyd/BLM demonstrations that created a huge Dem voter reg spike. pic.twitter.com/Y3YXbJk4Ol
— Tom Bonier (@tbonier) November 6, 2020
Omar went on to tell Grim that the decision by many Democrats to stop campaigning in person was a crucial mistake that cost many Democrats their seats.
"I think people will make excuses about why we lost but i think it always comes down to building trust, building relationships and having conversations about what really matters to people and not really buying into the narratives about what people care about but actually asking them," she said.