Ocasio-Cortez throws support to Sanders at Queens rally
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) threw her support behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday as the Democratic presidential hopeful made his return to the campaign trail following a heart attack earlier this month.
Ocasio-Cortez, a rising progressive star with a huge social media following, cited Sanders as an inspiration for her own decision to get into politics and tied her progressive goals to the 78-year-old Vermont senator.
“It wasn’t until I heard of a man by the name of Bernie Sanders that I began to question and assert and recognize my inherent value as a human being that deserves health care, housing, education and a living wage,” Ocasio-Cortez said during a rally with Sanders in the New York City borough of Queens.
She also credited him with giving her hope for her 2018 congressional campaign in which she unseated longtime Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.).
“I’m proud to say the only reason I had any hope in launching a long-shot campaign for Congress is because Bernie Sanders proved you can run a grassroots campaign and win in an America where we almost thought it was impossible,” she said.
The appearance by Ocasio-Cortez could give Sanders a jolt of momentum in the Democratic race, where he has been batting for votes against another progressive — Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Sanders said in a tweet that the rally was attended by more than 25,000 people. Media reports including NBC News and Politico had put the crowd at around 20,000.
We’re not only going to win.
We’re going to transform the country.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 19, 2019
Warren has sought to chip away at Sanders’s progressive support in recent months, touting similar proposals and offering in-depth explanations of her plans to voters.
Sanders has remained a fundraising powerhouse, but he has slipped behind Warren in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, and his recent heart attack added to the questions for his campaign.
News of an Ocasio-Cortez endorsement slipped out before the last Democratic debate on Tuesday and just as Sanders was returning to the scene.
Ocasio-Cortez is a popular figure among progressives and has touted many of Sanders’s proposals, including “Medicare for All” and free college tuition. In his own remarks, Sanders touted Ocasio-Cortez’s work on climate change.
Sanders has also been endorsed by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a close Ocasio-Cortez ally.
Ocasio-Cortez did not use the word “endorse” in her remarks on Saturday, but her appearance in and of itself sent a strong signal.
She later made the endorsement even more explicit in a tweet, writing, “In the end, we must come together to defeat Donald Trump.”
Today I am endorsing Senator @BernieSanders for president.
In the end, we must come together to defeat Donald Trump. We should do so knowing he is a symptom of a larger problem – and our greatest hope is a multiracial, working class movement in the United States of America. pic.twitter.com/9fiTS7FTX9
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 19, 2019
Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore and Sanders’s wife, Jane, sought to reassure supporters about their candidate’s health during the rally Saturday.
“I’m here to tell you Bernie’s back,” she said at the start of the rally. “He’s healthy. He’s more than ready to continue his lifelong struggle to fight for the working people of America.”
“The only heart attack we should be talking about is the one Wall Street is going to have when Bernie Sanders is president of the United States,” Moore said, energizing the crowd.
Sanders’s allies have voiced optimism that the 2016 Democratic presidential runner-up can regain his footing in polls following the latest primary debate Tuesday in Ohio.
The campaign has also touted Sanders’s powerful grassroots fundraising network. The senator brought in $25.3 million in the third quarter of the year, more than any other candidate in the Democratic primary.
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