Ocasio-Cortez says endorsing Sanders early is 'the most authentic decision' she could make

Ocasio-Cortez says endorsing Sanders early is 'the most authentic decision' she could make
© Greg Nash

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocrats working to ensure Trump's second term Ocasio-Cortez announces slate of all-female congressional endorsements Ocasio-Cortez defends Warren against 'misogynist trope' MORE (D) on Saturday praised Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: Bloomberg stalls after Vegas debate Prominent Texas Latina endorses Warren Bloomberg campaign: Vandalism at Tennessee office 'echoes language from the Sanders campaign and its supporters' MORE's (I-Vt.) long history of fighting for working class people like her, saying that her early endorsement of the 2020 presidential candidate served as an "authentic decision to let people know how I feel and where I am."

"As the senator mentioned, last February I was waitressing at a restaurant in downtown Manhattan and I didn’t have health insurance, and I wasn’t being paid a living wage, and I was facing sexual harassment at work, and to think now that I’m on the other side of this as a member of Congress, and understanding the pressures there are on the inside to conform," Ocasio-Cortez told CBS News in an interview following a massive rally in New York City in which she officially endorsed Sanders. "And to have seen them and experience them firsthand, it’s astounded me that the senator has been there fighting for me, long before I got to the halls of Congress, and fighting for people like me."

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"Some folks want to look at this from a political strategy perspective. But for me, it's just coming from an authentic place," the former organizer for Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign added. 

Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most outspoken members of the Democratic Caucus since becoming the youngest woman sworn into Congress in January. The freshman lawmaker has repeatedly raised issues related to President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Congress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff MORE, climate change and taxes. 

During the latest 2020 Democratic presidential debate, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "tax the rich," as candidates debated policies such as Medicare For All, which has been a centerpiece of Sanders' campaign. 

Sanders' rally in New York capped a week in which he scored endorsements from Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. 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 Rep. 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.). The endorsements came as fellow progressive Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenPoll: Bloomberg stalls after Vegas debate Bloomberg unveils billboards to troll Trump ahead of campaign stops John Legend joining Warren in South Carolina next week: report MORE (D-Mass.) surges in the polls and becomes a frontrunner in the Democratic primary. 

Asked Saturday about why she didn't endorse Warren, Ocasio-Cortez said "the fact that [Sanders] has been fighting for these issues for so long struck me in a very personal way."

"For me, this is not about 'why not any other candidate,'" she said, adding that Sanders's campaign was about creating a "mass movement."