Ocasio-Cortez Won’t Be Endorsing Joe Biden Any Time SoonWhy would the "middle-ground" politician appeal to one of the most progressive Democrats in power?
The youngest member of Congress in history could play a huge role in another upcoming historical event—the 2020 election. According to several news outlets, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement could be a president-maker during the upcoming Democratic primaries, with one writer even calling it “the AOC primary.” Just look at a recent piece by Politico, which attempts to guess which of the many Democrats running will receive her sought-after endorsement:
Ocasio-Cortez’s work on [Sen. Bernie] Sanders’ 2016 campaign—and the fact that several staffers from that bid went on to work for her and the pro-Ocasio-Cortez group Justice Democrats—suggest the Vermont senator has the inside track for her coveted endorsement. But Sen. Elizabeth Warren is making an aggressive pitch for Ocasio-Cortez’s nod, too: She’s met with her privately and wrote a gushing essay about her for Time magazine. An aide to Warren said their teams have been in touch.
“She is excited about both of their campaigns and the ideas they are putting forward,” said Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez. He added that the congresswoman isn’t planning to endorse soon.
[Rep. Ro] Khanna put it similarly: “I know [Ocasio-Cortez] has very strong positive feelings toward Sen. Sanders. I know she also has positive feelings toward Sen. Warren.”
Sanders and Warren aren’t the only candidates wooing AOC. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have also made overtures to the first-term phenom.
“I think it’s one of the most important endorsements in America right now,” said Rebecca Katz, a progressive consultant who advised Cynthia Nixon’s left-wing gubernatorial campaign in New York. “AOC has captured the imagination of so many young people, so many women and so many nonpoliticos who really see her as a ray of light.”
This month, CNN also reported that AOC (as she is widely known) is leaning toward Sanders or Warren. Ocasio-Cortez has teamed up with both leading progressives on a number of efforts, including a recent proposal she drafted with Sanders to cap credit card interest rates. While she still hasn’t given an official endorsement, her preferences have been clear for some time now.
“What I would like to see in a presidential candidate is one that has a coherent worldview and logic from which all these policy proposals are coming forward,” she told CNN. “I think Sen. Sanders has that. I also think Sen. Warren has that.”
According to The Guardian, part of AOC’s influence can be traced back to her social media following.
Ocasio-Cortez is also a social media sensation. She has in excess of 3 million followers on Twitter with more engagement than Donald Trump, Barack Obama or Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Last week a video clip in which she quizzed ethics experts about government corruption became the most-watched political video ever posted on Twitter with 37.5m views. It was another demonstration of astonishing clout.
Neil Sroka, communications director of the progressive group Democracy for America, said: “She’s built a profile with a savvy way beyond her years, but she also has an agenda that feels right for the moment. AOC does not exist without the bold, inclusive, populist agenda she’s pushing. The vitriol she has inspired speaks to how afraid everyone is; Republicans see her as representing a country they don’t even know how to speak to.”
Despite comments about her interest in both Sanders and Warren, it is largely believed that fellow Democratic socialist Sanders is still her favorite for the presidential nomination. But as Joe Biden climbs in the polls ahead of both the senators, many are wondering whether the influential New York Democrat would be willing to throw her support behind the former vice president. The answer, apparently, is probably not, at least not during the primary.
“I’m not close to an endorsement announcement anytime soon,” she told the Guardian on Tuesday. “I’m still trying to get a handle on my job. It seems like ages but I’m just five months in and we have quite some time. The debates are in the summer and our first primary election for the entire country isn’t until next year.”
Asked if she would consider endorsing Biden, widely seen as a centrist, Ocasio-Cortez replied: “I’d be hard pressed to see that happen, to be honest, in a primary.”
Partly, The Guardian piece suggests, her reluctance toward Biden has to do with his comments about finding a “middle-ground” approach to climate change. But given AOC’s radically progressive approach to politics as a whole—on everything from economics and immigration to women’s rights and climate change, her record places her firmly to the left of most Democrats in power—it’s unlikely she’s interested in endorsing more centrist, “middle-ground” politicians that have had their hand in furthering the broken political system that brought us Donald Trump.Wait, before you go…
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