Sanders adviser defends Ocasio-Cortez endorsement

A senior campaign adviser to Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersRussian interference reports rock Capitol Hill The Democratic nominee won't be democratically chosen Fox's Ingraham mocks DNC over Nevada voting malfunctions: 'Are we a Third World country?' MORE (I-Vt.) has defended Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez claps back after article on her dress: 'Sequins are a great accessory to universal healthcare' Democrats working to ensure Trump's second term Ocasio-Cortez announces slate of all-female congressional endorsements MORE (D-N.Y.) for backing the Vermont senator after she was pressed about the endorsement in an interview.

Sanders adviser Briahna Joy Gray told Hill.TV in an interview airing Wednesday that she was personally offended when a CBS News correspondent asked Ocasio-Cortez last month why she chose to back an “old white guy.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who is part of a group of prominent minority progressive congresswomen, responded by saying that she was “very excited” about her partnership with Sanders, adding it “shows what we have to do in our country” in terms of coming across race, gender and generational gaps.

“I’ve been receiving that question for quite some time now and I’ve got to say to our new endorsers: Welcome to the club,” Gray said on Hill.TV in response to the exchange.

“I’m frankly kind of insulted and blown away by the idea that another black woman who actually asked that question would be so myopic on what constitutes the issues that are important to people of color and women in this country,” she added later.

CBS correspondent Nikole Killion had asked Ocasio-Cortez the question after the New York Democrat spoke at a rally for Sanders in Queens, N.Y., last month. As Ocasio-Cortez sat next to Sanders for the interview, Killion asked, "As a woman of color, why back an old white guy? And is this the future of the party?"

Gray argued in the Hill.TV interview that it’s incumbent on voters to think of Democratic candidates “not in terms of pure ideology” but rather by looking at “what they’re willing to fight for.”

Killion didn't immediately respond to Hill.TV's request for comment. 

Ocasio-Cortez was the first member of the group of progressive freshman congresswomen known as "The Squad" to back Sanders.

Reps. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarIlhan Omar accuses Meghan McCain of trafficking in 'anti-Muslim smears and hate speech' Sanders wins endorsement of top Muslim group Omar endorses progressive Georgia Democrat running for House seat MORE (D-Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibSanders wins endorsement of top Muslim group Don't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Omar endorses progressive Georgia Democrat running for House seat MORE (D-Mich.) have also come out in support of the Vermont senator, while Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyThere's no such thing as a free bus Don't let 'welfare for all' advocates derail administration's food stamp program reforms Tlaib says she held Omar's hand during 'triggering' moments at Trump's State of the Union speech MORE (D-Mass.) broke with her fellow “squad” members on Wednesday to endorse Sanders’s progressive rival Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Democratic nominee won't be democratically chosen Surging Sanders looks for decisive win in Nevada Bloomberg to do interview with Al Sharpton MORE (D-Mass.).

“I’m proud to call her my senator. I can’t wait to call her our president,” Pressley said in a video announcing the news.

—Tess Bonn