On Tuesday, S.C. Rep. Nancy Mace posted an altered version of a 2018 photo of New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an attempt at a humorous "meme" over the proliferation of socialism on the part of Democrats.
Mace's post comes a week after she announced that she will seek the Republican nomination to challenge Congressman Joe Cunningham to "take back" the 1st Congressional District for the GOP.
The photo in question, taken in June 2018 before Ocasio-Cortez was elected, is one of several that depict her trip to a migrant detention facility in Tornillo, Texas. The original photo which was edited by Mace's congressional campaign shows then-candidate Ocasio-Cortez bent over near a chain link fence, with her hand on her face, appearing upset.
That particular photo had already been dissected by conspiracy theory websites like Infowars, which questioned whether the they were staged. A Snopes.com
post this week rates the rumor that AOC was "fake crying" in the photos to be false. Ocasio-Cortez was elected to Congress in November 2018.
The Mace campaign "meme" posted on Tuesday features an added, weathered sign with the words "America will never be a socialist country" and the campaign logo in the corner. "It would be funny if it weren't so true..." the caption reads.
No other context is provided for the photo, which is unrelated to Ocasio-Cortez's trip with other members of Congress to inspect detention facilities where families and children are said to be living confined in unsanitary conditions.
On Mace's Facebook page, some commenters appear to believe Infowars' false speculation and others question whether other pictures were altered. "You never know these days," one commenter wrote.
On Wednesday, Mace seemed unconcerned that even some of her own supporters seemed to be unsure of the source photo's validity.
"I'm not worried about people being confused about obvious tongue-in-cheek Facebook 'memes,'" she said. "But I am worried about the constant barrage of socialist ideas coming from AOC and the National Democrat [sic] party right now ..."
Tyler Jones, a Cunningham campaign spokesman, said in a statement: "As a longtime political operative, Nancy Mace has spread rumors and fake news to impact local elections for years. The Lowcountry saw this type of politics last year from our opponent and rejected it. South Carolina deserves better from our elected officials."
Cunningham defeated former state Rep. Katie Arrington in November after she won a surprise upset in the Republican primary over Mark Sanford.
Mace is one of at least three candidates who have declared their intent to run for the Republcian nomination to challenge Cunningham.
"As Joe said last year, if a candidate is willing to lie to you during the campaign, they will lie to you when they’re in office," Jones said.