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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: In a modern, moral, wealthy society, no person should be too poor to live

CNBC logo CNBC 6/29/2018 Catherine Clifford
Cynthia Nixon et al. posing for the camera© Provided by CNBC

“I want to confess that I did not know your name on Monday,” Stephen Colbert told his guest, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on CBS's “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Hispanic woman from the Bronx, laughed and didn’t break stride: “Most people didn’t,” she says.

Ocasio-Cortez beat 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for the 14th Congressional District of New York on Tuesday. Crowley, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, was expected to replace Nancy Pelosi as the minority leader. If Ocasio-Cortez goes on to win the seat in Congress, which she is expected to in her overwhelmingly Democratic district, she will become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Ocasio-Cortez describes herself as a Democratic Socialist, and she explained what that means to her to Colbert.

“So for me, Democratic Socialism is about ... really the value for me is that I believe that in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no person in America should be too poor to live. That’s what I feel,” Ocasio-Cortez says.

“Seems pretty simple.… So what that means to me is health care as a human right. It means that every child, no matter where you are born, should have access to a college or trade school education if they so choose it. And, you know, I think that no person should be homeless if we can have public structures and public policy to allow for people to have homes and food and lead a dignified life in the United States,” she explained to Colbert.

Three weeks before the election, polls showed Ocasio-Cortez was 36 points down against Crowley, but she won by 15 points, Colbert observed. Ocasio-Cortez pointed out that polling is not always accurate, but she also believes she inspired a new block of voters to turn out.

When asked about her constituents, Ocasio-Cortez says, “Well, I will tell you one thing: We were about eight minutes 'til the polls were closing and I was in my home neighborhood in the Bronx... It was eight minutes until the polls closed and these two teenage-looking kids came up to me and [were] like, ‘We just voted for you!’ And I was like, ‘How old are you?’ And they are like, ‘19!’ And I was like, ‘Oh. Nineteen years old voting in an off-year, midterm primary election.’”

Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign — which was run without corporate donors — was based on proposals including Medicare for all, housing as a human right, a federal jobs guarantee with minimum wage of $15 an hour and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She was a former organizer for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

President Donald Trump celebrated Crowley’s loss on twitter, chastising the long-time Congressman for not being nicer to him. Colbert, in reference to the President’s tweet, asked Ocasio-Cortez whether she planned to be “nicer” to the President.

“Well you know, the President is from Queens and with all due respect, half of my district is from Queens. I don’t think he knows how to deal with a girl from the Bronx,” she responded.

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