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Ocasio-Cortez defends Sanders running as a Democrat: It's 'more than what you call yourself'

Ocasio-Cortez defends Sanders running as a Democrat: It's 'more than what you call yourself'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBattle lines drawn over Biden's support for vaccine waivers Overnight Energy: Update on Biden administration conservation goals | GOP sees opportunity to knock Biden amid rising gas prices | Push for nationwide electric vehicle charging stations The Memo: The GOP's war is already over — Trump won MORE (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday defended Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' Democrats hit crucial stretch as filibuster fight looms GOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories MORE against charges that the independent Vermont senator is a “Democrat by convenience,” arguing that one's policies are more important "than what you call yourself."

Co-host Sunny HostinSunny HostinCNN and MSNBC legal analyst Midwin Charles dead at 47 Meghan McCain hits back at critics of comments decrying 'identity politics' Sunny Hostin: 'I feel like a hostage' to assault rifle owners MORE questioned Ocasio-Cortez about the Democratic presidential front-runner during an interview on ABC’s “The View,” saying "the problem I’ve always had with him is that I don’t consider him a Democrat."

"It seems to me that he’s a Democrat by convenience," Hostin continued, "because he’s even registered as an independent in 2024," the next time Sanders will be up for reelection to the Senate. "How do you reconcile that?" she asked Ocasio-Cortez.

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“I come from a district that is very progressive, but even in our district, even in the state of New York, something like 30 to 40 percent of voters are registered independent,” Ocasio-Cortez responded.

“I think one of the largest pluralities of voters in the United States of America consider themselves as … not wanting to be a part of this labeling. They don’t feel like there’s a home for them at the Democratic Party or the Republican Party,” she said.

“That doesn’t mean they’re in the middle, it means they don’t want to consent to be governed by all this kind of vitriol,” she added. “And so I think ultimately it comes down to what the senator fights for.”

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Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent Sanders surrogate who has credited him with inspiring her to run for office, noted that people adopt the political label of "independent" for varying reasons and that in Sanders’s case “he’s always fought for the issues that I think the Democratic Party is now starting to catch up to.”

She pointed to Sanders’s support for LGBTQ rights as mayor of Burlington, Vt., in the 1980s.

"Ultimately it comes down to what the policies are, more than what you call yourself," she said.

“He hasn’t just come to this fight, he has been fighting for these issues for his entire life,” she said. “He did this when it was least convenient, he paid the highest political cost.”

Sanders, along with Sen. Angus KingAngus KingDC mayor admitted to Democratic governors group amid statehood fight Democrats fret over Biden spending Schumer works to balance a divided caucus's demands MORE (Maine), is one of two senators registered as independents who caucus with the Democrats in the Senate.