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Sanders: Pelosi is being 'a little bit' too tough on Ocasio-Cortez

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 White House hopeful, said Sunday that he supports freshman congresswomen including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for energizing their progressive bases as the lawmakers clash with Democratic leaders. 

"Do you think the Speaker is being too tough on them?" NBC's Chuck Todd asked Sanders on "Meet the Press,"  noting that Ocasio-Cortez recently called out Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) for her "explicit singling out of newly elected women of color." 

"I think a little bit," Sanders responded. "I think you cannot ignore the young people of this country who are passionate about economic and racial and social and environmental justice. You've got to bring them in not alienate them."

Sanders, who has also clashed with Democratic Party leaders, said the future of the country and party "rests with young people." 

"Is this part of this bigger disruption you helped lead for years ago?" Todd asked Sanders. 

"What Alexandria and other young women, and women of color, are saying, we have got to reach out to young people. We have got to hear the pain of the working class of this country, and that is causing some of the disruption in the leadership of the Democratic Party," Sanders responded. 

"I support Alexandria's and the other women's desire to bring more people, especially young people, working-class people, into the  Democratic Party. That is the future of the Democratic Party," he added. 

Tensions have been escalating between four freshman Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez and Reps.  Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Pelosi after the group did not vote in favor of a  House funding bill to provide resources for agencies handling migrants at the border. 

Pelosi called out the representatives in a New York Times column, leading to a tense back and forth between her and Ocasio-Cortez. 

Pelosi said last week she was done talking about the issue.