Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment

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.) said Saturday that a heart attack suffered by 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.) in recent days was a "gut check" that spurred her decision to publicly endorse Sanders' candidacy for president.

In an interview with NPR, following a massive rally in New York City, Ocasio-Cortez endorsed the Vermont senator. The congresswoman said that her decision to support Sanders came from "feminist values" that his campaign embodied. The remark was a response to a question about why Ocasio-Cortez didn't endorse 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.), another progressive in the race.

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"For me, this is not about 'why not any other candidate,'" she said. "The fact that [Sanders] has been fighting for these issues for so long struck me in a very personal way."

"One of the things that's so important about what Senator Sanders is talking about, and what this campaign is about, is that it's far larger than a presidential campaign," she added. "This is about creating a mass movement."

Ocasio-Cortez added that it would have been "dishonest" to continue remaining on the sidelines as the Democratic Party's primary unfolds.

"I feel decided," the congresswoman told NPR. "It would be dishonest of me not to let folks know how I feel about this race."

Her endorsement, alongside that of Rep. 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 the reported anticipated endorsement of Rep. 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.), comes as Warren has surged in polling in recent weeks and follows on the heels of a strong debate performance by Sanders on Tuesday.

The two senators have battled for control of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California MORE remains the establishment favorite in the race. Biden has led the field in most polls for months but has seen his lead decrease in key primary states in recent weeks.