Hickenlooper Dials Up His Moderate Message, Takes Direct Aim At Sanders

Photo: John Hickenlooper | April 2019 Speech
Democratic president candidate and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at a Service Employees International Union forum on labor issues, Saturday, April 27, 2019, in Las Vegas.

Former Colorado governor and Democratic hopeful John Hickenlooper continues to make his presidential pitch across the country.

He offered an alternative vision to the move toward democratic socialism advocated for by presidential rival Sen. Bernie Sanders at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

“Democrats must say loudly and clearly that we are not socialists,” Hickenlooper said. “If we do not we will end up helping to reelect the worst president in this country’s history. Socialism is the most efficient attack line Republicans can use against Democrats as long as Trump is at the top of the ticket.”

He went even further, saying democratic socialism isn’t just a poor election strategy, but also “a disastrous governing model.” He took issue with the Green New Deal and Medicare for All policies supported by many others in the Democratic presidential field. Hickenlooper backs a public option for health care, rather than Medicare for All.

In response to Hickenlooper’s remarks, Bernie Sanders tweeted out a clip of Presdient Franklin Roosevelt taking on critics of his approach to the New Deal.

In his speech, Hickenlooper focused on pragmatic solutions that he argued can lead to progressive results. He touted his record in Colorado of working with everyone and anyone, from Democrats and Republicans to businesses and nonprofits. He said this collaborative approach led to many policy successes in the state: near universal healthcare coverage, a strong economy, wider access to reliable broadband.

He also promoted his role in making long acting contraception available for free to low-income women and teens, reducing methane emissions, and universal gun sales background checks.

“I am the only person running who has actually done what everyone is talking about,” Hickenllooper. said. “We took a pragmatic approach. We understood that sometimes we’d have to talk to Republicans. We didn’t demonize the private sector. We focused, above all else, on building a state that worked for everyone, by getting everyone to work together.”