'Moment of clarity' drove AOC's decision to endorse Sanders, she says

DENVER CO- SEPTEMBER 09 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters at a rally at Civic Center Park

DENVER CO- SEPTEMBER 09 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters at a rally at Civic Center Park

Independent Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will hold his first campaign rally since suffering a heart attack nearly three weeks ago, at which New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will also speak.

She outlined the issues she said are most important to her and her constituents - public housing, climate change, environmental justice, her support for a living wage and easier access to health care - that run parallel to Sanders' platform. The former bartender, whose mother came to NY from Puerto Rico and whose Bronx-born father died when she was 18, recounted how Sanders' "consistent and nonstop advocacy" of progressive causes had been an inspiration to her working-class family.

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

Sanders also praised Ocasio-Cortez when she won her seat in a long-shot bid against a powerful Democratic incumbent in a primary past year. Sanders now trails former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in most polls.

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That makes the endorsements from Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and other progressives so key, said Sanders, as "they are able to generate and are generating enormous support among young people, among people of color, among working class people all over this country".

"When I was a baby, my family relied on Planned Parenthood for prenatal care", Ocasio-Cortez said. "Then, Bernie Sanders fought for me". "And that's what we need to remember".

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks during a rally for presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders boomed to a cheering crowd that he is ready to get back to work.

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But the adoring crowd erupted with even greater enthusiasm when Sanders strutted onstage in Queensbridge Park.

Results from an October 14 Quinnipiac University poll showed primary voter support for Sanders fell around 11%, compared to Biden's 27% and Warren's 30%.

"I feel decided", Ocasio-Cortez said. She added: "There's a lot of copies, baby, but I don't know why you'd take the copy when you can have the original".

The mayor's mention of President Trump prompted many Sanders supporters to chant "Lock Him Up" - a play on the "Lock Her Up" slogan synonymous with failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

"For me, this is not about 'Why not any other candidate?' " Ocasio-Cortez said. "The fact that [Sanders] has been fighting for these issues for so long struck me in a very personal way". Ocasio-Cortez and Omar make up one half of "the squad", a group of four first-term congresswomen who have attracted attention for their progressive politics - and for President Trump's racist tweets about them.

Zimbwa hopes Ocasio-Cortez's endorsement will bring more people to support Sanders, rather than Warren.

Francesca Rheannon, a 70-year-old Long Islander carrying a Bernie placard, said prior to the rally that she does not view Warren negatively.

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