by Frank Holmes, reporter
Bernie Sanders has a grassroots army powering his political effort to win his party’s nomination, but he’s also one of the loneliest politicians inside the Beltway. Now, the Democratic presidential hopeful finds himself at odds with one of his few allies and closest supporters: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
The Bronx-born socialist senator has some tension with the Bronx-born socialist congresswoman over speeches she’s given for his campaign.
Sources close to Sanders are reportedly upset because they say AOC has used his presidential campaign to promote herself.
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While Sanders was stuck in Washington in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses, due to the unsuccessful attempt to impeach President Trump, AOC stumped for Sanders — but one speech left something out: Sen. Sanders.
Cortez “didn’t even drop Sanders’ name — you know, the guy she was stumping for since he was grounded in the Senate chamber,” wrote Matt Vespa at Townhall.
Her surrogate speech came at a vital moment in the campaign, just 10 days before the Iowa caucuses, where Sanders won more votes but collected fewer delegates than South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Not saying his name could have cost Sanders votes that determined victory or defeat.
Even when Cortez mentioned the senator, she often hyped the “movement” she hoped to lead.
“I know—and we all know—that this isn’t just about Bernie Sanders,” AOC told a campaign event, as the senator looked on. “This is about a movement that has been decades in the making.”
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Most of “The Squad” endorsed Bernie Sanders last October—including Cortez, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. (Rep. Ayanna Pressley backed fellow Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren.)
Some say that AOC — who has looked for ways to advance her career, from running for mayor of New York City, to U.S. Senate, to President of the United States — sees the Sanders campaign as her own launching pad.
Snubbing Sanders at his own event didn’t sit well with campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, who texted AOC’s handlers shortly after the speech — and he raised the second point of contention between the Sanders and AOC campaigns.
Cortez spent a huge amount of the same speech promising that, as president, Bernie Sanders would abolish the Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Cortez said the spirit of the Sanders/AOC campaign is about “tipping people off if you start to see that ICE” agents are enforcing immigration law, so illegal immigrants can continue to break the law.
Sanders has not made this a campaign focus and, until recently, said he opposed open borders.
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“If you open the borders, my God, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re going to have people from all over the world,” Sanders said just last year. “I don’t think that’s something that we can do at this point. Can’t do it. So that is not my position.”
Bringing in “all kinds of people” to “work for $2 or $3 an hour” is “a right-wing proposal,” he said.
Today, he says “the criminalization of [illegal] immigrants has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, dehumanized vulnerable migrants, and swelled already-overcrowded jails and prisons.”
The Sanders campaign has tried to play off the Shakir’s text as just “good-natured ribbing,” but signs of a deeper rift are clear.
The Horn News reported on comments AOC made that seemed to undermine Sanders’ commitment to radically increasing government control over healthcare.
Then, shortly after her speech, AOC’s people pounced on Sanders because he didn’t reject the endorsement of podcaster Joe Rogan.
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Cortez has made it known she wants to purge the Democratic Party of non-socialists, bashing Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden by name.
“Democrats can be too big of a tent,” she told New York Magazine.
Sanders’ spokesperson Briahna Joy Gray took an indirect shot at AOC’s vision of reading everybody out of the movement. “Sharing a big tent requires including those who do not share every one of our beliefs,” Gray said, “while always making clear that we will never compromise our values.”
“The truth is that by standing together in solidarity, we share the values of love and respect that will move us in the direction of a more humane, more equal world,” Gray said.
The harsh words have been papered over, as AOC was back a few days later, stumping for him in New Hampshire—under Sen. Sanders’ watchful eye.
The two might ask themselves why voters should buy into their belief that, under socialism, everyone will work for everybody else’s benefit, when these two socialists are wrestling each other for their personal political advantage while working on the same campaign.
Frank Holmes is a veteran journalist and an outspoken conservative that talks about the news that was in his weekly article, “On The Holmes Front.”