Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responds to criticism of progressive policies at debate: EXCLUSIVE

PHOTO: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez holds an immigration Town Hall in Queens, July 20, 2019, in New York City.PlaySpencer Platt/Getty Images
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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday claimed that the Democratic party won't take down President Donald Trump without a "progressive vision," taking aim at Democratic presidential candidates who spent Tuesday's presidential debate criticizing the Green New Deal and other progressive proposals.

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"A progressive vision is what will win, because it's not just about winning over Republican votes, but it's about actually inspiring and expanding turnout amongst the electorate," she said as she greeted constituents outside a subway station in the Bronx and handed out flyers with census officials. "If we don't actively work to give people something to vote for, then we're not going to win."

Candidates in Tuesday's debate, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and a slew of moderate Democratic trailing in the polls, sharply debated proposals from the progressives such as the Vermont senator's Medicare-for-all legislation.

In targeting Sanders and Warren, many of the moderate candidates on stage, including Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Rep. John Delaney, and Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, claimed that some of proposals could turn off some voters and potentially help Trump secure re-election.

"Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises," Delaney said.

Warren, in one of the more memorable exchanges of the night, replied, "I don't understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can't do and shouldn't fight for."

PHOTO: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends a House Oversight Committee hearing on high prescription drugs prices on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 26, 2019. J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends a House Oversight Committee hearing on high prescription drugs prices on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 26, 2019.

Ocasio-Cortez, who has not endorsed anyone in the primary, also challenged Democratic voters who may be casting votes based on viability — as some candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden, the frontrunner, have continued to promote their ability to woo independent and Republican-leaning voters in a general election match-up with Trump.

"Donald Trump wasn't a safe bet and he won the presidential election. I don't think safe bets are what wins us elections," she said. "I think inspiring turnout and having an inspiring candidate with a concrete vision .... that's what's going to win us an election, not someone that doesn't have an easily defined policy that seems to be trying to be all things to all people," she said, without referencing a specific candidate.

"We have to have a stake in the ground to say we are going to be the party of working Americans," she added.

The New York Democrat also pushed back on criticism of her Green New Deal, an ambitious environment-focused economic stimulus proposal that has set the terms of the debate on climate policy, arguing that the plan, which has prompted similar proposals in other countries, matches "the scale of the climate crisis."