Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday is rejecting Sen. Bernard Sanders‘ push to embrace “democratic socialism” for the country, as Mr. Hickenlooper tries to stake a claim to a more moderate lane among the 2020 Democratic presidential field.
In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Mr. Hickenlooper plans to say that he has great respect for Mr. Sanders of Vermont, but that he disagrees that the country should do away with “democratic, regulated capitalism.”
“This position is shared by many of my Democratic colleagues, but for some reason, our party has been hesitant to express their opposition to democratic socialism,” Mr. Hickenlooper says, in excerpts of prepared remarks.
“Democrats must say loudly and clearly that we are not socialists. If we do not, we will end up reelecting the worst president in our country’s history,” he says.
Mr. Hickenlooper said that “pragmatists” don’t reject big ideas and that government is effective when it teams up with the private sector, pointing to examples like the polio vaccine and the space race.
“I understand that our young people, especially, see socialism as an attractive alternative to the political gridlock and economic recession they experienced during their formative years,” he says. “But it would be a grave mistake to abandon the American entrepreneurial spirit that has always been at our country’s core.”
Mr. Hickenlooper says that while expansive policies like “Medicare for All” and the “Green New Deal” wouldn’t completely remake the U.S. economy on their own, Mr. Sanders‘ stated goal is to make the United States a “democratic socialist country.”
“We won’t achieve universal coverage by forcibly removing private insurance from over a hundred million Americans,” he says. “We won’t tackle climate change by guaranteeing every American a government job.”
Mr. Hickenlooper has been struggling to gain much traction in polling on the 2020 Democratic presidential field, and it’s unclear whether the party base is ready to embrace such a message, particularly after he and former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland received boos for making a similar pitch at California Democrats’ recent convention.
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