CNN's Gergen: 'Strategic mistake' for Dems to have Sanders debate healthcare

CNN's Gergen: 'Strategic mistake' for Dems to have Sanders debate healthcare
© Greg Nash

CNN's David Gergen warned Democrats that “it's a strategic mistake” to have Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersMellman: (Mis)interpreting elections Dems to propose legislation to prevent ICE from shackling pregnant women Rasmussen poll: Nearly three-quarters of Dems want 'fresh face' as nominee in 2020 MORE (I-Vt.) participate in a debate against Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKelly lobbied Republicans to rebuke Trump after Putin press conference: report Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyGOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Lawmakers pitch dueling plans for paid family leave New push to break deadlock on paid family leave MORE (R-La.) on Monday night before a national TV audience. 

“If the Democrats make this a debate between single-payer and the Republican Graham/Cassidy bill, they will very likely lose that debate," said Gergen, a former adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonWhy did it take so long for Trump to drain the swamp of Pruitt? An orthodox legal life and the case for Judge Kavanaugh Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE

CNN announced Thursday that it will host a town hall-style debate Monday night where senators from both sides of the aisle will face off over the new ObamaCare repeal bill.

The debate will pit Cassidy and Graham, the sponsors of the bill, against Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate Dems protest vote on controversial court pick Hillicon Valley: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | Sparks fly at hearing on social media | First House Republican backs net neutrality bill | Meet the DNC's cyber guru | Sinclair defiant after merger setback Booker seizes on Kavanaugh confirmation fight MORE (D-Minn.).

Sanders just unveiled his own single-payer health-care bill, which he refers to as “Medicare to all.”

It would transform the country’s health-care system from one in which most people get health care through an employer to one in which all people would be covered by a universal, government-funded system akin to Medicaid.

While the single-payer idea has growing support on the left, including from a number of possible Democratic presidential candidates in 2020, it’s not clear that it has broad public support.

It would go much further than ObamaCare, which the Graham-Cassidy legislation would undo and replace with block grants that would be delivered to states.

Gergen argued that in having Sanders involved in the debate, Democrats risk moving the argument to terrain that will help the GOP by making it about single-payer vs. Graham-Cassidy, instead of the present system versus the GOP bill.

“It's a strategic mistake to allow that to happen,” he said. “[Democrats] must make it a debate between ObamaCare, the current existing system, which many Americans want to keep that, versus this radical change coming from Republicans.”

“They can win that debate. They would probably lose the single payer debate and the country would be transformed. But it's a Republican bill."

The event will be moderated by CNN anchor Jake Tapper and the network's chief political correspondent Dana Bash live from Washington, D.C. 

The network will broadcast the event from Washington, D.C., on Monday at 9 p.m.