Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts has endorsed her longtime ally and home state Senator Elizabeth Warren for president, breaking with three fellow first-term congresswomen — members of “The Squad” — who endorsed a different progressive candidate.
In 2018, Pressley became the first Black woman from Massachusetts elected to Congress. Her endorsement gives Warren a prominent surrogate in a campaign that must win Black voters to beat former Vice President Joe Biden in the race for the Democratic nomination, New York Times reported.
The three other Squad members — Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — all endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
“This election is a fight for the very soul of our nation,” Pressley said on a Twitter video announcing her endorsement. “Elizabeth knows how to fight and she knows how to win.”
Warren has done more outreach to Black progressive groups and Democratic leaders over the past year than any other white candidate, but she’s trailing Biden in recent polls, New York Times reported.
Pressley’s endorsement triggered a Twitter discussion about her membership in The Squad and whether she was ever really part of it.
Squad members Omar, Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib are popular not only among liberal Democrats but a cross-section of the American public, The Guardian reported. And Trump fears them.
In July, the president rallied his base and infuriated most of the rest of the U.S. when he told The Squad to “go back” to their “broken and crime infested” countries. All four lawmakers are U.S. citizens, and three were born in the U.S. Omar came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia after spending four years in a Kenyan refugee camp.
The Squad have championed the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, student debt cancellation, abolishing ICE and the Department of Homeland Security and increasing the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent.
After Pressley announced her endorsement, New York Times politics reporter Astead W. Herndon predicted via Twitter that “Squad split will get national headlines, but this isn’t surprising. Pressley was Clinton surrogate in 16, never the same origin story as AOC/Omar/Tlaib.”
One social media user suggested “The Squad” may have outlived its usefulness. “@RepPressley appears to be an independent thinker. Time to stop using that whole squad moniker and evaluate the four on their own merits.”
Another tweeted that The Squad was a media construct: “She was never part of ‘The Squad’ – completely different background, level of experience, and ideology. The media just grouped them because they are all freshman women of color.”
“Call me crazy, but could this in fact, be an instance where, The Squad could still be The Squad and band together on major issues, but still have a difference in opinion about who should be President? Without any malice or hard feelings? Just an idea,” another person tweeted.
And this: “The other three refer to her as a Squad member, though. It’s more accurate to say that like any group, they don’t have to agree on everything.”
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The nickname “the Squad” happened during a joint interview of the House’s freshman orientation in November 2018, Pressley told Boston.com. The four newly-elected lawmakers posed for a photo and Ocasio-Cortez picked the caption, referring to the popular hashtag “#squadgoals.
“And it went viral,” Pressley said on the New York-based radio show “The Breakfast Club.”
“I know there are some folks who like to fashion us as some sort of like, ‘We move as a unit. We’re joined at the hip. We’re like some insurgent gang, virus of socialism and radicalism.’ But why did it go viral? Because it was resonant,” Pressley said. “It was deeply resonant because we just visually represented progress.”
When it comes to reparations, Warren has been credited with setting the policy agenda for the Democratic primary, Andrea González-Ramírez wrote for Refinery29. “This belief that the system has allowed for inequality that is morally wrong has been at the core of Warren’s political history — and it’s the driving force behind her presidential bid.”
Pressley’s endorsement was a must-have for Warren, New York Times reported. Warren has risen significantly in polls and fundraising over the last six months but she’s behind in some traditional measures of party support, including endorsements from governors, big-city mayors, and fellow senators outside Massachusetts.