(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced Tuesday night that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive firebrand whose 2018 New York Democratic congressional primary victory kickstarted a wave of liberal successes across the country, plans to endorse Sanders’ presidential campaign.
Two senior sources with the Sanders team told reporters at the close of Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate that Ocasio-Cortez would accompany Sanders at his campaign rally in New York on Saturday.
The event, being dubbed by the Sanders campaign as a “Bernie’s Back Rally,” is scheduled at a park adjoining the East River, just miles from the congresswoman’s Queens district.
The news comes as Sanders seeks to reinvigorate his campaign in the aftermath of a heart attack and slipping poll numbers.
The support of Ocasio-Cortez, who worked as an organizer for Sanders’ 2016 campaign, is a win for him over Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., whom the representative also was believed to be considering for an endorsement, as the pair jockeys for position within the progressive flank of the Democratic presidential field.
Sanders also was endorsed by Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., late Tuesday evening. Omar, a fellow liberal and close friend of Ocasio-Cortez’s, at times has attracted the ire of President Donald Trump, who in responding to some of her comments helped made her a household name.
“I have had the opportunity to work with Bernie Sanders up close on major policy initiatives,” Omar said in a statement, referencing the pair’s work on canceling student debt and expanding school meals. “I have seen the values that motivate him — and his commitment to building a movement that represents marginalized communities across this country.”
“Ilhan is a leader of strength and courage,” Sanders said in a statement of his own. “She will not back down from a fight with billionaires and the world’s most powerful corporations to transform our country so it works for all of us. I’m proud of what we’ve done in Congress, and together we will build a multiracial working class coalition to win the White House.”
Sanders’ New York event will be his first major rally after suffering a heart attack while campaigning in Nevada two weeks ago. In the interim, the senator has fielded questions about the viability of his campaign, as the health issue cropped up at a time during which he has slid to third place, behind Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, in most national and early-state polls.
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