Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has been a key ally of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is now the undisputed Democratic frontrunner for president after his win in New Hampshire this week. Yet, there appears to be some friction between the two camps concerning the stump speeches AOC has been giving on behalf of Sanders. The Vermont democratic socialist was stuck in Washington for the Trump impeachment circus prior to the Iowa Caucus, which turned out to be a disaster regarding tallying the votes. It was a short three-day swing, but as Vanity Fair reported, it caused some friction between the two camps. For starters, AOC went gung-ho on the anti-Immigration and Customs Enforcement bit which does not play well with Rust Belt voters. Second, and probably most importantly, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t even drop Sanders’ name—you know, the guy she was stumping for since he was grounded in the Senate chamber (via Vanity Fair):
Ocasio-Cortez has undeniably been a boon to the Sanders campaign—she endorsed him in October, as he recovered from his heart attack, which was crucial to him regaining his momentum. But Ocasio-Cortez’s star power and independence make her a wild card. In Iowa, while AOC didn’t exactly go rogue, her performance stoked some tensions between herself and the Sanders campaign.
Following Ocasio-Cortez’s three-day stint, Sanders’s campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, texted AOC’s campaign manager to express his dissatisfaction with aspects of her performance, according to a source familiar with the exchange. Specifically, the Sanders campaign was miffed that Ocasio-Cortez didn’t mention Sanders by name when she closed out a campaign event at the University of Iowa on a Friday night at the end of last month—a fact that Fox News picked up on. (The Sanders campaign noted that this was one of the first campaign events Ocasio-Cortez did without Sanders, who she typically would introduce at the end of her remarks but he was in Washington, D.C. for the impeachment trial. Any reminder to mention the Senator was “good natured ribbing,” according to the campaign.)
Ocasio-Cortez’s comments about the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol were also seen by some within the Sanders campaign as going too far, straying from Sanders’s stance on the issues in encouraging people not to cooperate with law enforcement agencies, according to this source. During an event in Ames, Iowa, Ocasio-Cortez told the crowd, “Organizing is about tipping people off if you start to see that ICE and CBP are in communities to try and keep people safe.” She continued, “I’m not here to reform some of these systems when we talk about immigration. I’m here because Senator Sanders has actually committed to breaking up ICE and CBP. That’s why I’m here.” (Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign declined to comment.)
His [Sanders] ambitious immigration plan now calls for the breakup of CBP and ICE and for the agencies’ current functions to be delegated to other federal agencies, including the State and Treasury departments, as well as the full demilitarization of the southern border. But immigration can be a hot button in states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan where Democrats have to win, and some felt that AOC had gone off script.
The publication added that the AOC crew found Sanders getting cozy with podcast host and Ultimate Fighting Championship commentator Joe Rogan. This is a minor hiccup, but it’s early. And it’s rather odd that AOC would commit such an error that one would had to have known would prompt a text from the Sanders campaign proper. Not mentioning the candidate’s name. Are you kidding me? We all know that AOC has presidential aspirations of her own. It looks like for a brief moment, at one stop in Iowa, she decided to be the de facto candidate. The magazine did note that any tension appears to have been smoothed over. A one and done mistake? I don’t know. The far left has a nasty habit of shooting themselves in the foot. One can hope, but AOC knows that beating Trump is above all on their 2020 to-do list. A minor popcorn moment, though we can only hope this alliance fractures.