Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Endorse Bernie Sanders for President - Rolling Stone
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib to Endorse Bernie Sanders. Will It Matter?

AOC will make it official this weekend at a Sanders rally in New York

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks at a news conference with Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to call for legislation to cancel all student debt, at the Capitol in WashingtonElection 2020 Student Debt, Washington, USA - 24 Jun 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks at a news conference with Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to call for legislation to cancel all student debt, at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., June 24th, 2019.

J Scott Applewhite/AP/Shutterstock

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is holding a rally in New York City on Saturday, less than two weeks after suffering a heart attack he initially said would force him to scale back his campaign schedule. In promoting the event, Sanders’ campaign has teased a special guest who will join him onstage. Sanders teased the guest himself during the Democratic primary debate on Tuesday, and barely an hour after he did so the Washington Post reported that the guest will be Democratic superstar Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who is expected to formally endorse the senator for the Democratic nomination.

“We’re looking forward to Saturday,” Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, told the paper. “IT’S HAPPENING,” tweeted Sanders’ campaign.

Ocasio-Cortez’s admiration of Sanders is well-documented (she volunteered for his campaign in 2016 before deciding to run for Congress), and it was anticipated she would at some point endorse him for president. The fact that it’s happening on Saturday should provide a much-needed jolt for Sanders, whose campaign now seems to be in a precarious position. After months of polling roughly even with Elizabeth Warren — and not that far behind Joe Biden — he has started to lag behind the duo in recent weeks. As of Tuesday night, RealClearPolitics notes that he is polling at an average of 15.6 percent, compared to Warren’s 23.4 percent and Biden’s 29.4. At the beginning of September, Sanders was leading Warren, 17.0 to 16.3. Concerns about Sanders’ health following his heart attack earlier this month haven’t helped, either. An Economist/YouGov poll released last Wednesday found that his “electability” had dropped 8 points in the week since he was sidelined.

The rally on Saturday, dubbed “Bernie’s Back,” is intended as a way for Sanders to demonstrate he is still plenty capable of rousing a pack of supporters, and he made sure to mention it when he was asked during the debate on Tuesday how he planned to reassure voters that he was in good enough health to handle the stresses of the presidency. He demonstrated his vitality plenty well behind the podium, as well, delivering fiery responses about health care, income inequality, America’s role overseas, and more. He’ll continue to do so on Saturday alongside perhaps the most popular figure in the Democratic Party, whose own policies align closely with those of the candidate she organized for back in 2016. Both have pushed for a Green New Deal, Medicare-for-All, and numerous measures to help close the wealth gap. In June, they appeared together on Capitol Hill as Sanders unveiled a plan to cancel all student debt, with Ocasio-Cortez announces she would introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Also present at the event in June was Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), another prominent progressive in Congress and one of President Trump’s frequent targets. Shortly after Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement was reported on Tuesday, Sanders released a statement announcing that Omar too is endorsing the socialist senator. “Bernie is leading a working class movement to defeat Donald Trump that transcends generation, ethnicity, and geography,” Omar wrote.

Minutes later, CNN reported that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) was also endorsing Sanders. Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib are all members of “The Squad,” a group of four freshmen congreswomen of color who have rallied around progressive policy views. The fourth member, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), has yet to endorse a candidate for president.

The endorsements are huge news for Sanders, but it’s unclear to what degree they’ll be able to move the needle for a campaign that is now trailing the two frontrunners by close to double digits in the polls. But for someone looking to bounce back from a health scare, Sanders couldn’t have done much better than a strong debate performance, a rally in New York City, and endorsements from two of the most popular Democrats in the House of Representatives.

This post has been updated.


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