“The four of them are unique, and I would include Lauren Underwood in that,” Ms. Vilardi said. “They’re challenging norms on leadership and what it means to be a strong leader.”
Moderates are not the only Democrats who bristle at the women — or at least the group that backs them. Some veteran members of the Congressional Black Caucus blasted Justice Democrats — and by implication, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff, Mr. Chakrabarti, who founded it — in an article in The Hill newspaper.
Two senior Democratic aides, both speaking on the condition of anonymity, said several Democratic lawmakers have urged Ms. Ocasio-Cortez to dismiss Mr. Chakrabarti, arguing that his outspokenness is undermining her. Mr. Chakrabarti, who is on paternity leave, did not respond to a request for comment; nor did a spokesman for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.
Waleed Shahid, the Justice Democrats’s communications director, showed no signs of tempering his criticism. On Friday afternoon, as Capitol Hill talked of rapprochement, he used Twitter to talk up conflict: “I don’t understand the aversion to conflict and vague calls for ‘unity’ on the Hill. Of course, there will be conflict between someone who primaried the 4th ranking House Democrat, participated in a sit-in at @SpeakerPelosi’s office, & encouraged more people to run in primaries.”
The foursome’s one unquestionable good for the party is fund-raising; Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, for instance, has already raised $2 million this cycle. But with Mr. Trump determined to make the women the face of the party, some Democrats say they need to tone it down — or at least be more careful with their words.
“They have been thrust into the middle of a debate about the heart and soul of this country, and that does carry with it a unique set of responsibilities,” said Representative Tom Malinowski, a centrist Democrat from New Jersey. “He has now put them in a very special position. It would be my hope that all of us, wherever we fall on the ideological spectrum, will advance our agenda while embracing in every possible way the patriotism that we share with all of our fellow Americans.”