…Bernie has been endorsed by three of the boldest progressives in the Congress:
And even more encouragingly (and touchingly), here’s the story behind those endorsements:
As the 78-year-old Sanders laid in a hospital bed in Nevada after a heart attack, with his presidential campaign in jeopardy, his campaign manager Faiz Shakir received a call and passed his phone to the Vermont senator. It was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She told Sanders she was coming aboard his campaign, months before she was expected to issue an endorsement.
“Think about the courage of this person who says, ‘You know, I know what you just went through but I have so much trust and confidence in you that you are the one who will fight the fight that I believe in. I’m with you,’” Shakir told POLITICO after news of the endorsement. “To hear that was like, ‘Wow.’”
Ocasio-Cortez’s support is a coup for the Vermont senator and a setback for his liberal rival, Elizabeth Warren. It came at an opportune time for Sanders, whose campaign was thrown into uncertainty after he was hospitalized for a heart attack early this month. Even before that, Sanders had been overtaken by Warren in early-state and national polls.
Sanders’ aides and allies did not hide their excitement: Some of them burst into tears and embraced one another after news of the endorsements broke in a Washington Post report.
“The man who’s really been building the movement for a long time is hospitalized with a heart attack. At his age, no one thinks that’s a good thing for the campaign,” said Waleed Shahid, the communications director for the progressive group Justice Democrats, which formed out of Sanders’ 2016 campaign and recruited Ocasio-Cortez to run for Congress. “To have an endorsement right now is to continue to say this is a campaign that’s important to progressives and the Democratic base.”
And if you’re wondering why she’s doing it, that’s no secret. This is a mutual-support society:
“I remember when they sat and talked to each other, it just felt like people who just know each other and understand each other,” Shakir said. “They have been to some degree within their own caucuses — whether it’s the House caucus or the Senate caucus — made to feel that they’re outsiders looking in. And I think they find [a] common bond in that: That we are in a struggle where even the establishment of the Democratic Party doesn’t always appreciate how we’re approaching these issues.”
Omar, meanwhile, told her fellow Squad members that she had decided to endorse Sanders shortly after laying out her criteria for a candidate at the “People’s Presidential Forum” in Iowa last month, according to the source familiar with her decision. She had been thinking about joining Sanders for some time, the person said, and talked with her allies about the importance of not following the polls but instead endorsing a candidate based on the issues.
“The hospitalization raised the stakes a lot, emotionally and politically,” said Alexandra Rojas, the executive director of Justice Democrats. “They are all movement people, they are all organizers at heart, and they were inspired by what he started in 2016,” she said of the members of Congress who endorsed Sanders.
Omar is planning to hit the trail for Sanders, and the senator is looking to do a future rally with Tlaib, whose district is in Michigan. Sanders announced Wednesday that he is joining Tlaib for a tour of her district later this month. He pulled off an upset victory in that state in the 2016 primary in part because he won over huge swaths of Muslim voters. Tlaib and Omar are the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
This is what it looks like when critical mass builds up…and bubbles over.