House

Ocasio-Cortez says Sanders should continue primary fight

Greg Nash

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday said that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) should carry on in the Democratic presidential primary to push the party toward adopting more progressive policies, despite his series of losses to former Vice President Joe Biden.

Sanders earlier in the day vowed to stay in the race after losing the Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho primaries on Tuesday night, which grew Biden’s lead in delegates to about 150.

Ocasio-Cortez pointed to Sanders’s strength with young people and Latinos over Biden, arguing that the party should take into account why those electorates preferred the Vermont senator when it works to unify after a nominee is ultimately chosen.

“How are we going to preserve the future for young people in this country, for Latinos in this country? There are real electorates that Biden lost,” Ocasio-Cortez told reporters in the Capitol.

“And I think it’s important for the sake of unity that we get real commitments on issues, whether you’re trans, whether you’re black, whether you’re — whether it’s criminal justice, whether it’s immigration, whether it’s environmental movements, I think we need to have a real policy discussion about what we’re committing to,” she said.

Ocasio-Cortez also argued that Sanders shouldn’t drop out while states have yet to hold their primary elections. Arizona, Illinois, Florida and Ohio all have their primaries next week, though Biden currently leads in polling of all four states.

“I think overall in general, there’s something to be said about ending a process before millions of people have been able to vote. And so I think just in terms of process it’s important for people to have their say,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

But she said that any decision on staying in the race should be up to Sanders, just as she declined last week to call on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to suspend her campaign in an attempt to consolidate progressives’ votes.

“Just as I said with Sen. Warren, I think that these are the decisions up to the candidates and the campaigns. These are intensely personal decisions, so I’m not here to — whether it’s one candidate or another, I never tell people when that is,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Sanders on Wednesday echoed a similar argument for pressing on with presenting his case for progressive policies like “Medicare for All.” He vowed to participate in Sunday night’s debate against Biden.

“We have won the ideological debate, but we are losing the debate over electability,” Sanders said in an address from Burlington, Vt.

“I cannot tell you how many people our campaign has spoken to who say they agree with us but will vote for Joe because they believe he’s the best to beat Donald Trump. Needless to say, I strongly disagree with that assertion, but that’s what millions of Democrats and independents say. On Sunday, I very much look forward to the debate,” he said.

Sunday night will be the first one-on-one debate of the cycle. Five candidates have dropped out since the last debate on Feb. 25, which took place before Biden’s victory in the South Carolina primary.

Rafael Bernal contributed.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Bernie Sanders Democratic primary Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Medicare for all

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