Three out of four members of “The Squad”—the influential freshmen congresswomen who have become the face of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing—are planning to endorse Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for president.
The Washington Post first broke the news Tuesday night, as Sanders and other top Democratic presidential contenders traded barbs and made the case for their respective candidacies at a televised debate in Ohio. During the debate, Sanders teased a “special guest” at an upcoming rally in New York City; as the Post reported, that special guest appears to be New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Shortly after the story ran, CNN politics reporter Greg Krieg reported that Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) will also join Sanders at the Saturday “Bernie’s Back” rally.
Omar released a statement later in the evening confirming her endorsement of the longtime senator, specifically citing his education platform and approach to foreign policy. From CBS News:
“Bernie is leading a working class movement to defeat Donald Trump that transcends generation, ethnicity, and geography,” the Minnesota Democrat said in a statement late Tuesday evening.
“That is why he is fighting to cancel all student debt. That is why he is fighting to make all school meals universal. That is why he is fighting for a humane immigration policy that treats immigrants as human beings and not criminals. And it’s why Bernie is fighting to end our forever wars and truly prioritize human rights in our foreign policy–no matter who violates them. And it’s why I believe Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump in 2020.”
The endorsements come at a crucial time for the 78-year-old Sanders, who’s been widely viewed as the progressive left’s vanguard for the last two election cycles. He had been sidelined from campaigning for the last two weeks by a heart attack, and his poll numbers have lagged behind frontrunners Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
The only member of The Squad yet to endorse a candidate is Rep. Ayanna Pressley, though surely the political calculus is more complicated for the Massachusetts rep, who would have to go against a fellow state lawmaker in Warren if she were to endorse Sanders (or any other candidate).
Still, the endorsements from Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib mark an exciting and significant turn for the Sanders campaign. AOC and Sanders, in particular, have long expressed mutual admiration. As Newsweek notes, Ocasio-Cortez volunteered for Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. Upon AOC’s election to office last year, Sanders lauded the progressive firebrand’s successful campaign: “What she did is talk about real issues.”