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

George Latimer, a Democratic congressional candidate challenging New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman, slammed “Squad” members for a recent, expletive-filled rally in the Bronx, arguing that progressive incumbents were “using the divisive stage” in Washington, D.C., endangering the party and the country’s need for “unity.”

Latimer diplomatically characterized Bowman’s “must-watch TV” comments at a rally that also included Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), saying that no matter what pressure she was under, she personally knew how to “maintain a public sense of balance and composure in the face of criticism.”

“I believe there are a lot of unfair and inaccurate criticisms being leveled at me by my opponent, and I don’t believe I have the right to vent my anger,” Latimer, who currently serves as Westchester County commissioner, said Monday at an event with faith leaders in Mount Vernon, New York.I don’t think I have the right to swear in public or behave a certain way. I’ve been that way my whole life, and I grew up on the streets of Mount Vernon, so I was under a lot of pressure and stress every day. But we try to absorb it, and I try to be respectful towards everyone. And even if someone says something mean about me, I try not to react coldly.”

“I tried hard not to be overly critical in our conversations. You said earlier that I was being diplomatic. That’s true,” Latimer continued in response to a reporter’s question. “That’s kind of my final guilty pleasure. I think it’s important to understand that we agree on many areas of public policy. We may disagree on certain areas of public policy, but what’s happened in Washington, and what the sitting president seems to have accepted, is that this is more about an arena of conflict than it is about finding common ground. And even when we disagree with our fellow Democrats, we have to be able to work together.”

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Latimer responds to Bowman's expletive-filled rally

George Latimer, Democratic candidate for New York State’s 16th Congressional District, speaks during a press conference at the Mount Vernon Democratic Party Headquarters on June 24, 2024 in Mount Vernon, New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“I believe that based on my character and my track record, we can find common ground and get things done together. I have already said that if I lose this election, my campaign is over,” he said. “Those who support me will be encouraged to not create more division. So, if there is division in the future, it will not come from my challenges. It will come from how the sitting president and his supporters view these issues.”

During the speech Amid the Bronx foul language, Bowman blasted the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel advocacy group that supports Latimer.

“We’re going to show f***ing AIPAC the power of the f***ing South Bronx,” Bowman said at a rally Saturday at St. Mary’s Park in Mott Haven. “You ask me why I’m being f***ing abusive. What am I supposed to do? They’re coming after me! They’re coming after my family! They’re coming after my children! Shouldn’t I fight back?”

“We’re going to show them who we are!” Bowman added, hopping around the stage. Bowman also led the crowd in a chant, “Cease now. Cease now.”

“We will not be silent while American tax dollars kill babies, women and children. My opponent supports genocide,” Bowman said. “My opponent and AIPAC are the ones destroying our democracy. It is up to all of us to protect our democracy.”

“That was inappropriate. Period,” Latimer said Monday about Bowman’s public use of profanity.

Bowman rocks in his chair on stage at Bronx rally

Congressman Jamaal Bowman attends a rally at St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx, New York City, on June 22, 2024. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Rep. Bowman says AIPAC will see ‘Bronx shit power’ in rally speech

Latimer, who is leading by double digits, said he would likely go to church for “self-reflection” if he lost Tuesday’s primary, and encouraged Bowman to take the same approach if he loses.

“I think about what you’ve done in this moment as opposed to your efforts to condemn the other way, and I hope that we have a platform to move forward. And let’s take it one step further. The party may be divided on some different issues, but the country is even more divided than that,” Latimer said. “We have a responsibility not just to unify the party, but to unify the country.”

“I don’t accept the premise that we’ve become adversaries because people have different views on big issues. I believe we’re all still Americans,” he said. “I believe we have underlying values. Some of those values ​​come from religious traditions. Some of them come from secular traditions. But we have to focus on that, otherwise our differences become so important to us that we lose our common ground and we move into democracy.”

New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman is fighting for his political life in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman greets Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during a campaign rally in the Bronx on June 22, 2024. (Reuters/Joy Malone)

“I’m not a big talker,” Latimer said at the start of the event, contrasting himself with his opponent. “You can’t have me say something outrageous that will be covered in the media. But the support of the people who support me is very important to me because I’m a positive person. If I ever go to Congress, I look forward to finding a way to help with the programs and services that they provide for the people who live in their communities. I have a representative here from the Bronx, I have a representative here from Mount Vernon, I have a representative from Westchester County.”

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Mr Latimer said he had heard from members of his constituency who wanted the Federal Government to “stop this performance art and put on some kind of performance”, and said there needed to be a “sense of urgency” in Parliament.

“I don’t know if one person can make a difference,” Latimer said, “but I think if every single member of Congress can be willing to do something substantive, not just symbolic, not just repeating the terrible problems of the past, and here we are, repeating the terrible problems of the past and figuring out how to move forward.”