WASHINGTON - Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it was "truly nauseating" to see President Donald Trump award the Medal of Freedom to conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh during his State of the Union address Tuesday.
In a video shared on Instagram, the first-term New York Democrat called Limbaugh - who revealed Monday that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer - a "virulent racist" who did not deserve the "extraordinarily sacred award."
"We're talking about putting someone on the same level as Rosa Parks, for example, in terms of their contributions to American progress," she said.
Ocasio-Cortez, who skipped the address in protest of the president and his policies, said giving the medal to Limbaugh was "red meat to his base."
"He wants to assert that Rush Limbaugh is somehow on the same level as Rosa Parks. And it's truly nauseating," she said. "And this is one of the many reasons that I did not go."
Medal of Freedom: What is it and why did Trump award it to Rush Limbaugh during State of the Union?
What Limbaugh has said in the past
Limbaugh has sparked a great deal of controversy over the years, routinely referring to women's rights activists as "feminazis" and once calling law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" for her support of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that covered contraception.
He has also made a number of comments that have been derided as racist, several of them about former President Barack Obama.
In 2007, he referred to Obama, whose father was black and mother was white, as a "halfrican-American." Later that year, he called him "Barack the Magic Negro." And during the Obama administration, he said: "The white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering."
"Race riots are part of the plan that this regime has," he said in 2011. "That's next."
He also said Obama's "entire economic program is reparations" and that he was "uppity, but not as a black."
In 2007, he was criticized for saying, "The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons."
In 2011, he uttered a string of gibberish as he mocked former Chinese President Hu Jintao. "Nobody was translating, but that's the closest I can get," he said.
In 2013, he came under fire for comments he made denouncing "white guilt."
"If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it's Caucasians," he said.
"The white race has probably had fewer slaves and for a briefer period of time than any other in the history of the world."
Conservatives denounce AOC
Ocasio-Cortez also denounced Trump's awarding the medal to Limbaugh during the State of the Union address because, she said, it was a violation of norms.
"It truly just cheapens the value of it," she said, adding there were many in the audience who had contributed more "to the fabric of American society."
She said Limbaugh "pretending to be surprised was such a joke" and "disingenuous" because reports that Trump planned to give him the medal had already been reported.
"He had to like pretend that this was some kind of Oprah moment," she said.
Several conservatives denounced Ocasio-Cortez for attacking Limbaugh.
Dan Bongino said she skipped the State of the Union "but did chime in to mock Rush Limbaugh just a day after his cancer diagnosis was made public."
Scherie Murray, a Republican candidate for Ocasio-Cortez's seat, called her rival's comments "disgusting."
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AOC mocks Rush Limbaugh, who has stage 4 lung cancer. Disgusting! We the People, reject your politics of socialism, division & hate.
You are the "red meat to your base" & are on the wrong side of history.#Congratulations on your Presidential Medal of Freedom @RushLimbaughEIB. https://t.co/2rJEi2t9qH
- Scherie Murray (@ScherieMurray) February 5, 2020
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ocasio-Cortez: Rush Limbaugh is 'racist,' unfit for Medal of Freedom