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

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race Ocasio-Cortez, Gillibrand and Moulton call for more high-speed rail funding in infrastructure package Pelosi picks Democrats for special panel tackling inequality MORE (D-N.Y.) said Saturday that a heart attack suffered by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders opposes Biden Interior nominee in procedural vote Briahna Joy Gray on how Sanders changed the healthcare conversation Sanders 'delighted' DeSantis asked White House to import Canadian prescription drugs 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 WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters Democratic patience runs out on bipartisan talks NYC progressives anxiously watch Maya Wiley's ascent 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 OmarHillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters Democrat says he won't introduce resolution to censure Greene MORE (D-Minn.) and the reported anticipated endorsement of Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHouse Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias Omar: I wasn't equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries 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 BidenJapan to possibly ease COVID-19 restrictions before Olympics 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday China supplies millions of vaccine doses to developing nations in Asia 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.