Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) were spotted dining together in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday, signaling a sense of unity between the socialist presidential candidate and the far-left member of the “Squad.”
The self-described socialist lawmakers were spotted dining together at the Penny Cluse Cafe on Saturday, accompanied by Sanders’ wife, Jane, and campaign manager Faiz Shakir:
— CNM (@CNMneews) September 29, 2019
The nature of their discussion remains a mystery, but it has reignited rumors of a potential endorsement on the horizon, as the Burlington Free Press noted:
No word on what they discussed….
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) September 29, 2019
The meeting follows weeks of internal frenzy for the Sanders campaign, which recently shook up its staffers in New Hampshire following concerns of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) surge in the early primary state — one Sanders won handily against former opponent Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Shortly after, the Sanders campaign shook things up in Iowa, removing Jess Mazour as the campaign’s Iowa political director. “We’ll continue to make moves that we feel best position this campaign to win,” Shakir told the Washington Post of the move.
Both moves followed Sanders’ loss of the Working Families Party (WFP) endorsement to Warren.
“Senator Warren strikes fear into the hearts of the robber barons who rigged the system, and offers hope to millions of working people who have been shut out of our democracy and economy,” WFP National Party Director Maurice Mitchell said in a statement following the endorsement, according to Politico.
Democrat operatives — as well as former and current Sanders supporters — are worried about Sanders’ style and general ability to adapt, and those concerns are driving some to Warren instead.
As Politico reported:
As Sanders has stagnated and Warren has soared, even some of the Vermont senator’s supporters are expressing alarm. Something is off, they say privately, adding to the chorus of people in establishment political circles saying the same thing. Maybe he should explain how he’s different from Warren — he has deliberately avoided any hint of criticism of her — or commit to out-organizing her in the early nominating states. Or perhaps he needs to make nice with the media and hire more seasoned pros. Or what about going all-in on Iowa?
The ideas from his volunteers, former aides, past delegates, steering committee members, and even some people within his campaign, vary. But they almost all come back to the same fundamental question, a question that has confounded the campaign since its earliest days: Can Bernie Sanders — a 78-year-old iconoclast whose entire identity is about standing firm in his beliefs, damn it — change?
Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow socialist, has yet to endorse a presidential candidate, but it is possible that the Sanders campaign is seeking one in hopes of a boost, particularly among idealistic and ultra-leftist millennial supporters.
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are on the same page on a variety of hot-button Democrat issues — particularly the Green New Deal. Sanders rolled out the most aggressive climate change agenda of any of his competitors last month, clocking in around $16 trillion. The two socialist lawmakers are also strong advocates for Medicare for All.
While the New York lawmaker has praised Sanders in the past for wielding “enormous political courage” on behalf of others, she has stopped short of endorsing him:
One thing that is completely undeniable about Bernie Sanders is the enormous political courage he consistently wields on behalf of others.
This statement is a big deal. He’s not just standing up for two members – he’s standing for the integrity of the entire US Congress. https://t.co/dZ8jPIyrLU
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 16, 2019
She told CNN in May that she was looking for a candidate who has a “coherent worldview and logic from which all these policy proposals are coming forward.”
“I think Sen. Sanders has that. I also think Sen. Warren has that,” she added:
ICYMI- Here is our conversation with @AOC about what it will take to win her 2020 endorsement. She said it will take “a while” to decide. She is considering @BernieSanders & @ewarren but didn’t seem high on @JoeBiden. pic.twitter.com/sT69GTusVN
— Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) May 9, 2019