Sanders adviser defends Ocasio-Cortez endorsement

A senior campaign adviser to Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings MORE (I-Vt.) has defended Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings Overnight Energy: Perry replacement faces Ukraine questions at hearing | Dem chair demands answers over land agency's relocation | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders unveil 0B Green New Deal public housing plan Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez drum up support for Green New Deal public housing plan 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 OmarOcasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field Krystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy Omar renews claim Stephen Miller is a 'white nationalist' amid calls for him to step down MORE (D-Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOcasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field Krystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy Sanders: Fighting anti-Semitism 'is very personal' MORE (D-Mich.) have also come out in support of the Vermont senator, while Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOcasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field Justice Democrats official denies that progressives struggle with electability The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race MORE (D-Mass.) broke with her fellow “squad” members on Wednesday to endorse Sanders’s progressive rival Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Following school shooting, Biden speaks out: 'We have to protect these kids' 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