Hickenlooper swipes at Trump in campaign launch: He's 'destroying our democracy'

Hickenlooper swipes at Trump in campaign launch: He's 'destroying our democracy'
© Greg Nash

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) officially launched his 2020 presidential campaign on Thursday, taking a swipe at President TrumpDonald John TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage MORE while promoting a vision for a more unified country.

Hickenlooper, who announced his bid earlier this week, told supporters in Denver it was "essential" to defeat Trump in 2020.

He cast the president as a divisive figure with harmful policies, and pledged to move the country forward by bringing leaders together.

"We have every right to live in a land that’s the home of hope," Hickenlooper said. "But these days, that’s not how it feels in America. It feels like we’re living in a heaving crisis - years in the making - spawned by dysfunctional politics - and defined above all by this president."

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"Donald Trump is alienating our allies, ripping away our health care, endangering our planet, and destroying our democracy."

He cited Trump's "daily insults" on Twitter, saying they "range from shocking to unconscionable."

Hickenlooper also attacked the Trump administration's practice of separating migrant families, noting, "Most people would call that kidnapping."

The two-term governor argued instead for greater unity.

"This isn’t about unity for unity’s sake," he said. "America stops working when we work against each other."

If elected, Hickenlooper vowed that his first act would be to rejoin the Paris Climate on the first day of his presidency.

He laid out additional goals, including developing a "green economy" and combatting climate change, closing loopholes and increasing taxes on the wealthy and pushing for "universal, affordable" health care.

"I’m running for president because the only way to end the Trump crisis of division is with a leader who knows how to bring people together and get things done," he said.

Hickenlooper recalled his experience leading the state during damaging floods and wildfires, as well as a mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater in 2012.

He further touted his administration's efforts to boost the state economy, implement Medicaid expansion and push for environmentally friendly legislation.

The 67-year-old joins a steadily growing field of presidential hopefuls vying for the Democratic nomination at a time when the party is keen to take out Trump.

Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRepublicans wrestle with impeachment strategy O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter MORE (D-N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Gillibrand2020 Presidential Candidates Krystal Ball: Yang campaign a 'triumph of substance over the theatre' Three 2020 candidates have missed about half of Senate votes MORE (D-N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRepublicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' MORE (D-Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharRepublicans wrestle with impeachment strategy Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada MORE (D-Minn.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders wishes Ocasio-Cortez happy birthday Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Sanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders can gain ground by zeroing in on corruption Biden praises Buttigieg for criticizing GOP attacks: 'That's a good man' Warren enters crucial debate with big momentum MORE (D-Mass.) are among those who have already waded into the race.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage Schiff: Whistleblower testimony might not be necessary Trump warns Democrats will lose House seats over impeachment MORE is also seen as nearly certain to get into the race, while former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeButtigieg pushes back on O'Rourke threat to strip religious institutions of tax-exempt status O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter Conservatives slam Beto O'Rourke over threat to tax-exempt status for religious organizations MORE (D-Texas) is mulling a campaign.

"I understand I’m not the first person in this race or the most well known person in this race," Hickenlooper quipped on Thursday. "But let me tell you: at 4 syllables and 12 letters, 'Hickenlooper' is now the biggest name in the race."