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Nancy Pelosi, Kirsten Gillibrand, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez steer clear of D.C. Women’s March

The anti-Semitism issue failed to stop some prominent Democrats from turning up Saturday at Women’s March events across the country, but members of Congress stayed away in droves from the flagship march in Washington, D.C.

No national Democrats spoke at the Freedom Plaza rally on Pennsylvania Avenue, which would have required them to share the stage with Women’s March national co-chairs Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez-Jordan, and Linda Sarsour.

Instead, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York gave a speech at the Iowa state capitol in Des Moines. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed up at the two competing marches in New York City, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib rallied the crowd inside the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.

“We got the House this year, and we’re going to get all the houses next year, including the White House,” said Ms. Ocasio-Cortez at the rally for the Women’s March Alliance, which is unaffiliated with the Women’s March NYC.

For the third year, the march soldiered on, bringing out smaller but still feisty anti-Trump crowds despite a drop in momentum stemming in large part from the leadership’s associations with Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.

Sen. Gillibrand, a contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nod, addressed the anti-Semitism issue Saturday in a tweet, saying, “I want to say this loud and clear: There is no room for anti-Semitism in this march or this movement.”

Other Democratic lawmakers who joined marches in their home states included Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts; Rep. Debbie Dingell and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan; Rep. Katie Hill of California, and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, according to news reports.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked with the crowd in San Francisco, as shown on tweets and video.

Governors who attended state march events included Ned Lamont of Connecticut and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, while Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were also on hand for the third annual marches in their cities.

Not helping was the freezing weather and snow in the Midwest, which likely depressed crowd sizes and prompted some event to move indoors.

Some marches were sponsored by groups that have publicly disassociated themselves from the Women’s March, citing concerns about anti-Semitism, an issue that has been linked to a significant drop in support and calls for the four co-chairs to resign.

Meanwhile, the Women’s March leaders sought to tamp down the bigotry uproar at the rally by showcasing several Jewish speakers and condemning anti-Semitism.

“I want to be unequivocal in affirming that my sisters and I condemn anti-Semitism and homophobia and transphobia in all forms,” said Ms. Perez-Jordan in her speech. “There is no excuse for bigotry. There is no excuse for hate. But if this movement is to go and prosper, there must be in times of conflict an opportunity for truth and reconciliation.”

Ms. Mallory, who came under fire last week for refusing to condemn Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, pushed back against media reports and declared, “do not let anyone tell you who I am.”

In Washington, D.C., thousands gathered at Freedom Plaza, but the crowd was a far cry from the estimated half-million participants who flooded the National Mall at the 2017 Women’s March in a mass show of opposition on the left to the election of President Trump.

The crowd made a four-block loop past the Trump Hotel before returning to Freedom Plaza for a nearly four-hour rally featuring speakers and musicians.

Addressing the crowd, in addition to the co-chairs, were leftist activists with groups such as United We Dream, Black Lives Matter, Center for Popular Democracy, National Action Network, Indigenous Peoples March, labor unions, and the NAACP branch in Washington, D.C.

The most prominent Democrat in Washington, D.C., was former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution and a surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

The Democratic National Committee pulled its sponsorship of the event without explanation and sent no speakers, as opposed to last year, when DNC chair Tom Perez spoke at the D.C. rally.

Ms. Mallory came under fire for interviews last week in which she refused to condemn Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, saying only that she disagreed with his statements on Jewish and gay people, and also refused to affirm Israel’s right to exist.

At the rally, she said, “To my Jewish sisters, I see all of you. I see your pain. And to my black sisters, I see you!”

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