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AOC slams Buttigieg over ad criticizing tuition-free college: 'This is a GOP talking point'

Megan Henney

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed Pete Buttigieg for adopting what she called a “GOP talking point” after the Democratic presidential candidate aired an ad criticizing calls for tuition-free public college as unrealistic.

“I believe we should move to make college affordable for everyone,” the mayor of South Bend, Indiana said in the new ad campaign in Iowa, which a Politico reporter shared on Twitter. “There’s some voices saying, ‘That doesn’t count unless you go even further, unless it’s free even for the kids of millionaires. But I only want to make promises that we can keep.”

Although Buttigieg doesn’t actually name them, the ad seemed to be a veiled swipe at Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two of Buttigieg’s rivals for the Democratic nomination next year. Both progressive candidates have endorsed plans for tuition-free public college and eliminating student loan debt.

But Ocasio-Cortez, who endorsed Sanders for president last month, accused Buttigieg of echoing Republicans with his argument.

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“This is a GOP talking point used to dismantle public systems, & it’s sad to see a Dem candidate adopt it,” the New York Democrat wrote on Twitter. “Just like rich kids can attend public school, they should be able to attend tuition-free public college.”

Ocasio-Cortez went on to note that “universal public systems” are designed to benefit everyone -- pointing out that a number of the wealthy’s children go to private schools that aren’t covered by tuition-free public college under the policies backed by Warren and Sanders.

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“We don’t ban the rich from public schools, firefighters, or libraries bc they are public goods,” she added. “When you start carving people out & adding asterisks to who can benefit from goods that should be available to all, cracks in the system develop.”

Ocasio-Cortez, an influential voice in the Democratic Party, continued that it’s “GOOD” to have diverse classrooms with students from different economic backgrounds.

“Having students from different incomes & backgrounds in the same classroom is good for society & economic mobility,” she wrote.

But Buttigieg's campaign fired back on Friday, arguing that Buttigieg would make public college tuition-free for 80 percent of families, while providing tuition assistance for the next 10 percent.

"If you think that a worker who didn’t go to college should pay for college for a CEO’s kid, then @PeteButtigieg isn’t your candidate," Buttigieg's senior advisor Lis Smith wrote on Twitter.

Under Buttigieg's $500 billion college affordability plan, public college would be tuition-free for households earning under $100,000 and inject $120 billion into federal Pell Grants.

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