In the image that went viral on Monday, one of the men in the photo has his arm around the cutout and looks to be kissing it. Another has his hand around the cutout’s neck as if to choke her.
The photo was posted to Instagram with the caption: “break me off a piece of that.”
AOC fired back at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y.
The McConnell campaign said in a statement that it “in no way condones” the image, but it condemned “the far-left and the media” for writing about the incident.
“These young men are not campaign staff, they’re high schoolers and it’s incredible that the national media has sought to once again paint a target on their backs rather than report real, and significant news in our country,” said Kevin Golden, McConnell’s campaign manager, in the statement.
The picture was taken at the 139th Annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Kentucky, a political event attended by both Democrats and Republicans.
The post has since been deleted and one of the men pictured has also apologized online, posting a picture of a note-card that says, “I was wrong…. I’m sorry.” In his caption, he wrote: “My friends and I sincerely apologize to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, Senator McConnell, to our school, St. Jerome Parish, and our community for our insensitive actions at Fancy Farm this past weekend.”
NBC News reached out to the men in the photo for a comment via Instagram and the school referenced in the apology post but the Rev, Darrell Venters of St. Jerome Catholic Church told the station that the young men in the photo do not attend his parish.