Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to a crowd of supporters for Sen. Bernie Sanders during a campaign rally on Oct. 19 in New York City. Photo: JOHANNES EISELE / Contributor/Getty Images

2020 candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday held his first campaign rally since his recent heart attack and surgery, joined by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)

Why it matters: Sanders formally secured the coveted Ocasio-Cortez endorsement during the rally in Queens. The support shows Sanders is still a "formidable contender" and shifts the "conversation away from his health issues and age, infusing his campaign with a renewed sense of vitality," writes the New York Times.

What she's saying: AOC credits a variety of issues — from Medicare for All to the elimination of student debt — that have risen to the forefront of the 2020 Democratic primary discussion to Sanders.

  • "In 2016, he fundamentally changed politics in America. We right now have one of the best Democratic candidates presidential primary fields in a generation, and much of that is thanks to the work Bernie Sanders has done."

The big picture: Sanders' campaign hopes the Ocasio-Cortez endorsement will highlight his ability to build a multiracial, working-class coalition of voters, notes the Times. These endorsements could also help Sanders reinvigorate young, female supporters who helped him secure primary states in 2016.

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