White House hopeful Sanders gets endorsements from star progressives

WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - High-profile progressives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar threw their support behind Bernie Sanders' campaign for president as the U.S. Senator held his own on Tuesday during a three-hour debate just weeks after suffering a heart attack.

The two U.S. congresswomen were both endorsing the Democratic socialist candidate's bid for the White House, Sanders' campaign said.

The endorsement of Ocasio-Cortez, known as AOC, the newest star on the leftist stage, and Omar, a Muslim congresswoman who has been the frequent target of U.S. President Donald Trump, suggested Sanders remained the left's favored nominee.

"Bernie is leading a working class movement to defeat Donald Trump that transcends generation, ethnicity and geography," said Omar in a statement.

Ocasio-Cortez would endorse Sanders at his comeback rally on Saturday in New York, campaign spokesman Mike Casca confirmed.

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Scenes from the October Democratic debate in Ohio
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Scenes from the October Democratic debate in Ohio
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), billionaire Tom Steyer, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former tech executive Andrew Yang, former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and former housing secretary Julian Castro at the strart of the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., left, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and former Vice President Joe Biden, right, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidates former Vice President Joe Biden, left, talks with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., during a break in the Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, left, and businessman Tom Steyer participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Members of the media watch the Democratic presidential primary debate from the media center hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15th, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, hugs former Vice President Joe Biden in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., talk during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate former Housing Secretary Julian Castro speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate businessman Tom Steyer participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke participates in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential hopefuls California Senator Kamala Harris (L) greets Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders during the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., from left, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, listens as former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Vice President Joe Biden raise their hands during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks to the press in the spin room during the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful New Jersey Senator Cory Booker speaks to the press in the spin room during the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
US actress Rosario Dawson arrives the spin room after the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
US actress Rosario Dawson (L) and boyfriend Democratic presidential hopeful New Jersey Senator Cory Booker pose for pictures in the spin room after the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful businessman Tom Steyer speaks to the press in the spin room after the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) walks the Spin Room after the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful former Texas representative Beto O'Rourke smiles in the spin room after the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) enters the Spin Room with his girlfriend Rosario Dawson after the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Former tech executive Andrew Yang walks through the Spin Room after the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) enters the Spin Room after the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Volunteers hold signs with candidates' names in the spin room after the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) interact during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks to the press in the spin room after the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: The audience watches the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg are introduced before the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke looks on during a break at the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Rosario Dawson enters the Spin Room after the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks to the press after the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopeful former US Vice President Joe Biden takes a selfie with supporters after the fourth Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season co-hosted by The New York Times and CNN at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio on October 15, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden shake hands after the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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National polls have shown fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren, a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, pulling ahead of Sanders as a frontrunner alongside former Vice President Joe Biden.

Sanders' Oct. 1 heart attack had led to questions about whether the 78-year-old was still a top contender among the 19 Democrats running to take on Trump in November 2020.

Sanders has vowed to return to full bore campaigning after having two stents inserted in an artery.

He enjoys a passionate support base and raised more money for his campaign in the last quarter than any other Democrat, picking up $25.3 million.

On Tuesday night, Sanders appeared as energetic as ever.

On the debate stage, he vigorously defended his Medicare for All plan against fellow Democrats arguing for more piecemeal health reforms.

Sanders also said the concentration of wealth in the hands of a small number of people in the United States was "a moral and economic outrage" and showed the need for a wealth tax.

"The truth is we cannot afford to continue this level of income and wealth inequality and we cannot afford a billionaire class whose greed and corruption has been at war with the working families in this country for 45 years," he said. 

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