Freshman Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday endorsed presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders during a rally that marked the Jewish Senator’s return to the campaign trail following a heart attack earlier this month.

"I call him 'tio Bernie'," Ocasio-Cortez, 30, said at the rally in her Queens, New York constituency.

"Tio" means "uncle" in Spanish, the language of Puerto Rico where Ocasio-Cortez has roots.

"We right now have one of the best Democratic presidential primary fields in a generation, and much of that is thanks to work that Bernie Sanders has done in his entire life," Ocasio-Cortez added.

"The only reason that I had any hope in launching a long-shot campaign for Congress is because Bernie Sanders proved that you can run a grassroots campaign and win," Ocasio-Cortez said in her speech.

"When I was a waitress, and when it was time for me to graduate college with student debt, Bernie Sanders was one of the only ones that said no person should be graduating with life-crushing debt," she added.

Sanders hinted during a televised debate on Tuesday night that Ocasio-Cortez, who is often referred to by her initials of AOC, would be endorsing him at Saturday’s rally.

“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.”

Ocasio-Cortez joined her fellow first-year congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, another member of the new Democratic guard, in endorsing Sanders.

Both women are members of what they call "The Squad," an outspoken, leftist group of four rookie, youthful and racially diverse congresswomen whom President Donald Trump has accused of hating America.

Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly come under fire for several controversial statements involving Israel.

Last month, the freshman Congresswoman criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 News while arguing that criticizing Israel’s policies is not being anti-Semitic.

In a radio interview in August, Ocasio-Cortez said that Israel is “criminal” in its treatment of Palestinian Arabs, whom she said have no other choice but to “riot” against the Jewish state.

She also caused an uproar in June after she claimed that the United States “is running concentration camps on our southern border.”

Earlier this month, Ocasio-Cortez claimed that Trump is anti-Semitic following his attacks on Rep. Adam Schiff of California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Omar, a Somali refugee who last year became one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, came under fire earlier this year after she suggested on Twitter that Republicans were attacking her at the behest of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.

She subsequently issued a half-hearted apology before ultimately deleting the controversial tweets.

Omar and Tlaib both endorse the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Sanders does not but upholds the right of Americans to boycott Israel.

In August, Sanders said the US cannot prioritize the wants and needs of Israel over all else if it wants to help bring peace to the Middle East.

In April, he described the Israeli government as “racist” and said that “Netanyahu is a right-wing politician who I think is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly."

Last year, he criticized Netanyahu and his policies, saying, "As someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel's right to exist... we must say loudly and clearly, that to oppose the reactionary policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu does not make us anti-Israel."

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