Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told ABC News Monday night that his new campaign trail-mate, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) would play a significant role in his White House if he is elected president.
ABC News wanted to know whether Sanders was considering Ocasio-Cortez as a potential running mate in the unlikely event he snags the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and goes on to face President Donald Trump in a general election.
Sanders was non-committal on the answer but did say that Ocasio-Cortez would have a significant role in shaping both domestic and foreign policy in a Sanders administration.
“Look, I’ve said this before, let me say it again and I don’t want you to hear this because your head will explode,” Sanders said in the joint interview with the freshman New York legislator. “I don’t know of any person who, in the course of less than one year, has had more of an impact on American politics as a freshman member of Congress than she has.”
“It’s not only that she has focus on the real issues impacting the American people, like climate change, the usury rates that Wall Street are charging working people in this country, but she has been an inspiration to working people all across this country and to young people in particular,” Sanders gushed.
“I happen to believe that the future of this country depends on young people becoming increasingly involved in the political process and there’s nobody I know that can do a better job inspiring young people than Alexandria,” he continued.
“If I’m in the White House, she will play a very, very important role. No question. One way or another, absolutely,” Sanders concluded, acknowledging that her role could be a “Cabinet-level” position.
Ocasio-Cortez was among the first of the Congressional progressives to endorse Sanders, and has since brought fellow “squad” members, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), along for the ride. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), the fourth member of the “squad” bucked the trend with a more logical endorsement, throwing her support behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Sanders has definitely reaped benefits from Ocasio-Cortez’s support, commanding more headlines and drawing more supporters to his events. His campaign re-launch, which came just a little over a week before the aging Senator suffered a mild heart attack, was one of his largest rallies to date. The Brooklyn gathering, which featured Ocasio-Cortez announcing her support for Sanders, drew thousands.
Sanders had hoped that Ocasio-Cortez, who grew up in a tony suburb of New York City and attended a pricey university before moving back to the Bronx to work as a waitress and bartender, would connect with the blue collar and working class Democrats he’ll need to secure both the nomination and win the election, according to TIME magazine.
Although Ocasio-Cortez has brought a measure of excitment to the geriatric politico’s campaign, she hasn’t really brought the target demographic. In a New York Times poll released last week, Trump bested Sanders in all of the key “battleground” states in the working class Rust Belt. The only candidate challenging Trump for the presidency was former Vice President Joe Biden, widely criticized by progressives like Ocasio-Cortez who believe — without much evidence — that the electorate has taken a significant shift leftward since 2006.