Democrat challenger slams Bowman’s ‘theater of conflict,’ says profanity-laced rally jeopardizes party ‘unity’

Democrat congressional candidate George Latimer criticized incumbent "Squad" member Rep. Jamaal Bowman's "theater of conflict" at a profanity-laced rally.

George Latimer, a Democratic congressional candidate challenging Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., slammed the “Squad” member’s recent profanity-laced campaign rally in the Bronx, arguing the progressive incumbent “bought into the theater of conflict” in Washington, D.C., jeopardizing the party and the country’s need for “unity.” 

Diplomatically describing the remarks from Bowman at the campaign rally that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also joined as “must-see TV,” Latimer said no matter the pressures, he personally knows to “maintain a public sense of balance and calmness even in the face of criticism.” 

“I think there’s been a lot of criticism lobbed at me by my opponent that’s unfair and inaccurate, but I don’t think I get the right to use my temper,” Latimer, who currently serves as Westchester County executive, said at an event with faith leaders in Mount Vernon, New York, Monday.I don’t think I get the right to curse in public and carry on in a certain way. I’ve been that way all my life, and when I grew up on the streets of Mount Vernon, you know, there’s a lot of pressure and stress on you every day. But we try to absorb that, and I try to show respect to everybody. And even if people say mean things about me, I try not to respond unkindly.”

“I went to pains not to be hypercritical in my conversations. You just said a second ago that I was diplomatic. Yes,” Latimer continued, responding to a reporter’s question. “That’s sort of my terminal guilt. The important thing is to understand that we agree on a lot of areas of public policy. We may disagree in certain areas of public policy, but what’s happened in Washington and what I’m afraid the incumbent has bought into, is that this is more about the theater of conflict than it is finding common ground. And if you have disagreements with fellow Democrats, you still have to be able to come together and work.”

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“And I do believe by my personality, by what I’ve done in the past, we can find common ground and make things together. I’ve already said if I lose this race, my campaign is over,” he said. “The people who support me are going to be encouraged, you know, not to have any further division. So if there’s division that comes in the future, it’s not coming from my challenge. It’s coming from the way the incumbent and his backers view these issues.” 

During a speech in the Bronx riddled with expletives, Bowman lashed out against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel advocacy group supporting Latimer. 

“We are going to show f—ing AIPAC, the power of the motherf—ing South Bronx!” Bowman said at Saturday’s rally held in St. Mary’s Park in Mott Haven. “People ask me why I got a foul mouth. What am I supposed to do? You’re coming after me! You’re coming after my family! You’re coming after my children! I’m not supposed to fight back?”

“We’re going to show them who the f— we are!” he added, jumping around the stage. Bowman also led the crowd in a chant of “Cease-fire now. Cease-fire now.”

“We are not going to stand silent while U.S. tax dollars kills babies and women and children. My opponent supports genocide.,” Bowman said. “My opponent and AIPAC are the ones destroying our democracy. And it is on us, it is on all of us to save our democracy.”

Latimer on Monday said of Bowman’s use of expletives in a public setting, “That was inappropriate. Period.” 

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If he loses Tuesday’s primary, Latimer – who holds a double-digit lead – said he would likely come to church for “self-introspection,” and he encouraged Bowman to take the same approach if defeated. 

“Look at what did you do to contribute to this moment as opposed to the accusational effort that you point in the other direction. And I hope that there is a basis for us to move forward. And let me go one step further. The party may be divided over a couple of different issues, but the nation is even more divided,” Latimer said. “We have a responsibility not only to unify the party, but to unify the nation.”

“I don’t accept the premise that because people hold different views on major issues, that they have become enemies. I believe we’re still all Americans,” he said. “I do believe we have underneath the same core values. Some of that come from where we have the religious tradition. Some of it comes in secular tradition, but we have to focus on that or that is how we move into democracy, by letting the differences that we have become so important to us that we lose the commonality.” 

“I’m not a bombastic person,” Latimer said earlier in the event, drawing contrast to his opponent. “You’re not going to get me to say those outrageous things that sometimes get you in the media. But the support of these individuals behind me is very important to me because I look forward. What I look forward to do is, if I do go to Congress, to find ways to be helpful in the programs and the services that they provide to the people that live in their communities and the Bronx is represented here, as well as Mount Vernon, Westchester County.” 

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Latimer said a “sense of urgency” is needed in Congress, as he hears from those in the district “about them wanting to see the federal government stop this performance art and get down to some performance.”

“Whether one person can make a difference. I don’t know,” Latimer said. “But I do believe every individual congressman, if you can find that willingness to work on substance and not just on the symbolic things, not just repeating what the problems of the past, there were terrible problems of the past, but we’re here now, and we have to figure out how to work forward.” 

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