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There’s no evidence she said that.
From his campaign ad, you’d think Tim Baxter is running for a U.S. House seat against New York City Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — even though Baxter is a small-town Republican from New Hampshire.
"AOC is a liar, liar. Her $60,000 Tesla must be on fire," Baxter says to open the 90-second video, before an image of a white Tesla surrounded by animated flames and photos of Ocasio-Cortez are shown.
Then Baxter makes this claim in the Facebook and Instagram ad:
"She says that all young people want to be socialists; another lie."
We found no evidence for his claim.
Republicans have used the socialist label to attack Democrats and their policies for decades, including over programs such as Medicare or Social Security that ultimately became popular on both sides of the aisle. Some are using the label in their 2022 campaigns, including an ad by Kalena Bruce, a House candidate from Missouri, that calls Ocasio-Cortez a socialist.
When Ocasio-Cortez, who was elected to the House in 2018, speaks of socialism, it is often about expanding social programs. She supports a single-payer health care system, tuition-free college and banning private prisons, and has advocated abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
She has described herself as a democratic socialist, expressing support for free markets, but with more power for workers. In her own ads, she said her first run was "people versus money," and she has called for Medicare for All and a federal jobs guarantee.
At the same, Ocasio-Cortez has said some democratic-socialists can also be capitalists.
Our searches of Google, Bing and Nexis found no instance in which she said that all young people want to be socialists, as Baxter’s ad says. We also searched for any mention of young people and socialists on her personal and official Twitter accounts.
Had Ocasio-Cortez flatly stated that all young people want to be socialists, it’s likely news coverage would have quickly followed.
Baxter’s campaign did not reply to our requests for information to back his statement. A spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez declined to comment on the claim and on whether she has owned a Tesla, which is an American brand of electric cars. A number of reports have speculated that Ocasio-Cortez drives a Tesla, including the conservative Washington Free Beacon, which reported in May that according to unnamed sources, her Tesla was seen parked illegally in Washington, D.C.
While Baxter is not running against Ocasio-Cortez, his ad makes it clear that, at 24, he wants to be "the youngest elected congressman." Ocasio-Cortez is now 32 but in 2018 was the youngest person in modern history to be elected to Congress until Madison Cawthorn, a North Carolina Republican, was elected in 2020 at 25, the minimum age to serve in the House under the Constitution.
There is evidence that young people in the U.S. react favorably to the term "socialism" — and show support for more progressive ideas about government programs, if not government ownership of the means of production.
For example, this question was asked in an Axios/Momentive poll in June: "Do you have a positive or negative reaction to the word socialism?"
Among adults ages 18 to 24, 52% said positive and among those 25 to 35, 50% said positive.
But there’s a lot of distance between those findings and the claim that Ocasio-Cortez said "all young people want to be socialists."
We rate that claim False.
PolitiFact staff researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
Facebook, Baxter for Congress ad ID: 461366178700542, Jan. 4, 2022
Email, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spokesperson Lauren Hitt, Jan. 11, 2022
PolitiFact, "Trump’s false claim that Biden is a socialist," Oct. 15, 2020
PolitiFact, "Ga. Sen. David Perdue’s claim that Jon Ossoff is a socialist is Pants on Fire," Nov. 23, 2020
Axios, "Axios|Momentive Poll: Capitalism and Socialism," survey dates June 11-15, 2021
YouTube, MSNBC interview of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Feb. 7, 2019
Reddit, Young America's Foundation, "How Serious Is The Socialist Threat?", accessed Jan. 11, 2021
Fox Business, "Why is socialism so popular among young people?", July 30, 2018
Forbes, "Socialism, Capitalism, and Candidates: Updating Attitudes," July 1, 2021
Facebook, Kalena Bruce for Congress "Socialism is here" ad, ID: 609463700125210, Jan. 10, 2022
Facebook, Pete Stauber for Congress, "The radical left agenda will destroy our way of life" ad, ID: 496677398491122, Jan. 10, 2022
Facebook, Drew Ferguson for Congress "Leading the fight" ad ID: 972755080260189, Jan. 10, 2022
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