WESTERVILLE, Ohio (JTA) — Three of the four members of “The Squad,” the grouping of progressive Democratic freshmen who have stirred excitement and controversy among Democrats and derision among Republicans, are set to endorse Bernie Sanders for president.
The Vermont senator, the first Jewish candidate to win presidential nominating contests when he ran in 2016, hinted at the announcement in the debate Tuesday night in this suburb of Columbus.
Sanders, 78, was asked by the CNN/New York Times moderators how he would reassure voters that he was up to a run after surviving a recent heart attack.
“Let me invite you all to a major rally we’re having in Queens, New York,” he said. “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.”
Before the debate was through news outlets broke the news that the “special guest” at the event Saturday would be the prominent member of the Squad, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
Within minutes, another Squad member, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, announced her endorsement and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan was said to be set to announce her endorsement.
Omar and Tlaib both endorse the boycott Israel movement; Sanders does not but upholds the right of Americans to boycott Israel. In her announcement, Omar hinted that Sanders’ at times tough criticism of Israel drew her to him. Sanders “truly prioritize human rights in our foreign policy–no matter who violates them.”
Omar and Tlaib also have been accused by some Democrats and by Republicans of crossing the line into anti-Semitism. President Donald Trump has said the party is anti-Semitic because of their influence.
Not announcing was the fourth Squad member, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who is the closest of the four to the pro-Israel community. Pressley hails from the same state as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who recently surpassed Sanders in polls, threatening to steal from him the mantle of leading progressive among the candidates.