'Lucky': Inside Ocasio-Cortez's endorsement of Sanders

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) gave Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign a shot in the arm in October 2019 when she endorsed him just after Sanders suffered a heart attack - but her support was never guaranteed.

According to "Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency," Ocasio-Cortez, then a 29-year-old progressive with one of the largest social media platforms of any politician, had expressed hesitance to back Sanders.

While the two liberals were ideological matches, Ocasio-Cortez expressed concerns to Sanders's campaign that it lacked a path to victory in the Democratic primary contest.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), another progressive in the Democratic primary, also was appealing for Ocasio-Cortez's support through texts and phone calls.

The Sanders campaign was left with the impression that while Ocasio-Cortez would not endorse another candidate, she might not endorse Sanders either and just stay out of the race entirely.

However, Sanders's October heart attack changed the calculus.

Ocasio-Cortez called the Vermont senator in the hospital, where he was getting restless and barking at a nurse that "I want to get out of here," to inform Sanders she planned to endorse him, sparking the then-78-year-old to pump his fist in the air.

Her support culminated in a raucous rally in Queensbridge Park in New York City later that month that drew over 25,000 attendees.

"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 the rally. 

Sanders would ultimately end up losing the Democratic primary to now-President Biden, though he and Ocasio-Cortez remained relevant even after he left the race.

Several of their allies were tapped for the so-called unity task forces that brought together centrists and progressives to advise Biden on policies during the 2020 race.