Venice Beach, California on December 21, 2019: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on stage at a campaign rally for Senator Bernie Sanders (Shutterstock)
By Gregory Krieg and Kate Sullivan, CNN
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez never hid from the fact that choosing between Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as she weighed her 2020 presidential endorsement, would be a difficult one.
She was open when asked, about her affection and appreciation for both Democratic candidates. A decision, if it was going to come at all, wasn’t expected until later this year.
“I would like to see in a presidential candidate is one that has a coherent worldview and logic from which all these policy proposals are coming forward,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN in May. “I think Sen. Sanders has that. I also think Sen. Warren has that. I also want to see us centering (on) working people in the United States to stem income inequality (and) tackle climate change.”
But as the primary heated up, with Warren surging and Sanders stalling in the polls, the process appeared to be speeding up. On a late September weekend, the New York Democrat visited Burlington, Vermont, where she, Sanders and a couple of close aides met for dinner, according to a source familiar with discussions. They met against the next day for brunch. Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir later told CNN those discussions did not yield any firm commitment but had been “a key step in the process.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement was one of the most sought-after in progressive politics and, ultimately, she delivered it at one of the most uncertain times in Sanders’ long political career. The New York Democrat told Sanders she would back him for president over the phone as he was lying in a hospital bed recovering from the heart attack that took him off the campaign trail for weeks, aides to both told CNN. When he fell ill in Las Vegas, Sanders’ campaign had been stalling in polls, as Warren pulled ahead and solidified her status among the front-runners.
On Saturday, the influential freshman who rose quickly to become one of the most prominent progressive voices in Congress injected a fresh burst of excitement into the Sanders campaign at a big rally in Queensbridge Park.