WASHINGTON — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is set to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, the senator’s campaign confirmed to BuzzFeed News Tuesday evening.
“She will help us build the multiracial working class coalition we need to win and transform this country,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a text message to BuzzFeed News.
The endorsement is perhaps the most significant for Sanders of the 2020 cycle so far. Since shooting into the national spotlight last summer after toppling then Rep. Joe Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez has become one of the most significant voices in progressive politics — with major sway, particularly among young voters.
The news that Ocasio-Cortez will endorse Sanders was first reported by the Washington Post Tuesday night during the Democratic presidential debate, which marked Sanders return to the campaign trail after a recent heart attack.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of Ocasio-Cortez’s closest allies, endorsed Sanders Tuesday evening immediately following the debate.
“Bernie is leading a working class movement to defeat Donald Trump that transcends generation, ethnicity and geography,” she said in a statement. “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 as criminals. And it’s why Bernie is fighting to end our forever wars and truly prioritize human rights in our foreign policy.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, another member of the progressive group of first-term representatives known as the Squad, was also reported to be planning to endorse Sanders. But Tlaib clarified in a statement Wednesday, that while she will take Sanders on a tour of her district on Oct. 27 and bring him to a roundtable "with housing justice advocates," she has not yet made an endorsement. "It is critically important to me to involve my residents and my district in every major decision I make. ... I need to know that anyone I choose to endorse will fight for my residents, and I appreciate the opportunity for them to have a dialogue with Senator Sanders about these critically important issues," Tlaib said in a statement.
Where the fourth member of the Squad, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, stands on the race remains unclear. Pressley did not immediately return a request for comment.
Ocasio-Cortez is expected to officially make the announcement at a rally with Sanders in Queens Saturday that the campaign is calling “Bernie Back.”
Sanders hinted at her appearance during the debate, in response to a question about his health, saying a “special guest” would be joining him at a “major rally” in Queens this weekend. “We’re going to have a special guest at that event. And we are going to be mounting a vigorous campaign all over this country. That is how I think I can reassure the American people,” he said.
Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement comes as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sanders’ chief progressive rival, has leapfrogged him in the polls. Sanders did, however, lead the Democratic field in fundraising, raising $25.3 million in the most recent quarter.
Backstage following the debate Tuesday night, Sanders campaign national cochair Nina Turner cast Ocasio-Cortez's endorsement as a natural fit. “The congresswoman’s assent to the Congress, and others like her who came through that class of 2018, he really paved the way for that kind of freedom to boldly stand up and be who you are on this political spectrum, and so this is in many ways coming full circle,” she said.
Nidhi Prakash contributed to this story.
This story was updated with a statement from Tlaib.