AOC Endorses Bernie Sanders At Queens Rally

WCBS 880 Newsroom
October 19, 2019 - 2:20 pm
Sanders AOC

Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) – Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders got a high-profile endorsement from freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during a campaign rally in Long Island City on Saturday.

The large rally was being held at Queensbridge Park, overlooking the Manhattan skyline. More than 20,000 people were said to be in attendance at the rally, including filmmaker Michael Moore and Queens DA candidate Tiffany Caban.

"I'm proud to say that the only reason that I had any hope in launching a longshot campaign for Congress is because Bernie Sanders proved that you can run a grassroots campaign and win in an America where we almost thought it wasn't possible," Ocasio-Cortez said. "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 praised Sanders for his support of progressive policies.

“Bernie Sanders did not do these things because they were popular," she said. "He fought for these aims and these ends when they came at the highest political cost in America. No one wanted to question this system."

While she didn't specifically say she was endorsing him, Sanders said she will be campaigning with him across the country.

Energized by thousands of backers gathered for a Queens rally, the 78-year-old Vermont senator said, "When I look at this huge crowd, brothers and sisters, I have no doubt that the political revolution is going to sweep this country, sweep Donald Trump out of office and bring the change that this country has long needed."

He said he was "more ready than ever to carry on with you the epic struggle that we face today. I am more than ready to assume the office of president of the United States."

To raucous applause, he declared: "I am back."

It was the start of what he is calling a "vigorous" return to campaigning as he tries to give his stagnant bid an instant shot of energy.

Sanders, 78, has returned to the campaign trail after suffering a heart attack on Oct. 1. He appeared healthy at Tuesday’s Democratic debate, where he took the stage with more than 10 other candidates.

While he pledged during this week's presidential debate to move forward with his campaign, he's moving cautiously in the short term. The rally in Queens is his only scheduled appearance before he returns to Iowa late next week.

AOC, a liberal firebrand who represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, has publicly weighed whether to endorse Sanders or his progressive opponent Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

AOC and Sanders both embrace progressive policies such as universal healthcare and a Green New Deal.

The endorsement from the 30-year-old progressive star "send the message that the movement is growing, that it's gaining influence, that it's gaining traction," Sanders' campaign manager Faiz Shakir said.

He predicted that the newly announced support from Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who will not be present Saturday, would help Sanders generate significantly more support from young people and minorities going forward.

"Those are two people who I think have immense power to mobilize young people, and I promise you you'll be seeing them in Iowa, but not only in Iowa, but around the country, trying to get people engaged around the issues," Shakir said.