In a significant boon to Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, the three most prominent members of the so-called 'Squad' are endorsing his 2020 bid, choosing the Vermont Socialist over front-running leftist Elizabeth Warren. Word of the trio of endorsements from hard-left House progressives leaked out late Tuesday, starting with this scoop about an upcoming Sanders rally in New York City, featuring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez -- via the Washington Post:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., plans to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and appear with him at an event this weekend, The USA TODAY Network has learned. A person with knowledge of the plans confirmed the endorsement. The Washington Post had first reported the planned endorsement. Nina Turner, a former state senator and current Sanders campaign national co-chair, said to The USA TODAY Network that Ocasio-Cortez was returning the favor for the groundwork Sanders' campaign had laid in 2016. "So the foundation that he laid in 2016 allowed for candidates to stand up and be bold and run their race," Turner said. "This is coming full circle. One person doesn't make or break a campaign, but the level of excitement, it's going to take it to the next level for us."
Shortly after the AOC news broke, we learned that this was a package deal:
"Bernie is leading a working class movement to defeat Donald Trump that transcends generation, ethnicity and geography," Omar was quoted as saying in a statement posted on Twitter by the Sanders campaign — and that Omar retweeted on her own Twitter page. "I believe Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump in 2020," Omar added.
The conventional wisdom is that this development is a boon to both Sanders and Joe Biden, which makes sense. Bernie has been by and large stagnant in much of the national polling, hovering between 15 and 20 percent support since May. Then the 78-year-old announced that he'd suffered a heart attack, prompting him to say that he planned on scaling back his campaign schedule, before quickly reversing himself. Despite his strong fundraising, was Bernie 2020 about to collapse? The united support of the major 'Squad' figures, who are popular among the left-wing base, comes at an opportune moment for Team Sanders. It's a shot in the arm, an injection of youth and energy, and a sign that Bernie will have vocal proponents in his corner as the campaign plays out.
The Squad isn't known for relenting in their views or rhetoric, so they'll undoubtedly put up a spirited fight on behalf of their fellow socialist. For the foreseeable future, he's not going anywhere -- even if these endorsements, like most endorsements these days, end up having only a de minimis effect. This is also helpful to the Biden camp, in that it all but guarantees that Elizabeth Warren probably won't get a clean one-on-one shot at the former Vice President as the standard bearer of the progressive left any time soon. If Bernie made a relatively early exit, or faded badly from real contention, Biden's weaknesses could be more glaringly exploited by Warren. But if the hard left vote will be sharply divided over the coming months, Biden stands to benefit as the de facto leader of the center-left "lane." In short, the Biden vs. Warren vs. Bernie dynamic would seem to be much more attractive to Biden than an effective two-person race.
All that said, there's at least one potential upside for Warren: If she ends up prevailing in the primary process and wins the nomination, she's going to need to at least feign a pivot to the center for the general election. She and her supporters could say that one major point of departure between Warren and Bernie is that she is a self-identified capitalist (ahem), whereas he is not. Remember, they might add, the far-left Squad preferred him over her, so she can't be that scary; how "radical" could Warren really be? They could safely make this point knowing full well that the Squad would end up enthusiastically backing Warren over Trump no matter what. If Tuesday's debate exposed Warren as weak and shifty under fire, I'll leave you with another reminder that Biden's status as the establishment's frontrunner isn't looking too robust:
NEWS: Joe Biden has $8.98 million cash on hand— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) October 16, 2019
Sanders: $33.7 million
Warren: $25.7 million
Buttigieg: $23.4 million
Harris: $10.5 million