Most 2020 Dems reject socialism label

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Most of the Democratic presidential candidates are working to distance themselves from socialism, a label that could divide the party. 

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), who are each vying for the Democratic nomination, this weekend embraced capitalism and said they are not democratic socialists. 

{mosads}In doing so, they followed in the footsteps of several other Democratic candidates, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who is considering a 2020 bid.

The push among many candidates to distance themselves from democratic socialism comes as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a contender for the 2020 nomination, has embraced the label and Republican leaders have seized on socialism as an attack line on Democrats.

Hickenlooper, who announced his candidacy last week, said during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he “absolutely” rejects the label of democratic socialist, though he added that he thinks labels “do nothing but divide us.”

“I’m happy to say I’m a capitalist but I think at a certain point the labels do nothing but divide us,” he said. “What I’m trying to build this campaign around, is to say that as a country we’ve got to stop finding every excuse to divide ourselves and begin working together.”

Warren, meanwhile, has previously embraced capitalism and said Sunday that she is not a democratic socialist.

“I am not. And the centrists have to speak to whatever they are doing. What I can speak is to is how I am doing,” Warren also said Saturday during an interview at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, according to CNN.
“All I can tell you is what I believe,” she added. “And that is there is an enormous amount to be gained from markets. That markets create opportunities.”
Delaney argued in a CNN op-ed that Democrats should embrace capitalism and that “socialism is not the answer.”
“In its pure form, it is a bad economic model and it’s the wrong political approach,” he wrote.
Harris said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire last month that she is “not a democratic socialist.” Additionally, O’Rourke last month declared that he is a “capitalist.”

“I don’t see how we’re able to meet any of the fundamental challenges that we have as a country without, in part, harnessing the power of the market,” O’Rourke told reporters in El Paso, Texas. 

Spokespeople for Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who are each seeking the nomination, also confirmed to the Associated Press last year that they don’t consider themselves democratic socialists. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also clarified during an MSNBC interview this month that she is “not a socialist.”

The campaigns for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) did not immediately return requests from The Hill seeking clarification on whether they consider themselves democratic socialists.

But even as the majority of the Democratic candidates have embraced capitalism, leaders in the GOP have highlighted a growing interest in democratic socialism to attack the party as a whole.

President Trump said during his State of the Union address last month that he was “alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that Democrats have taken “a sharp and abrupt left turn toward socialism.”

“A flawed ideology that has been rejected time and again across the world is now driving the marquee policy proposals of the new House Democrat majority,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

Proponents of democratic socialism have argued that it’s necessary to guarantee citizens adequate health care, housing and education as well as to expand the rights of workers. 

Sanders said last month during an interview with MSNBC that his support of democratic socialism means he views “economic rights as human rights.”

“I happen to believe that in the year 2019, with all of the wealth around us, we can create an economy which guarantees health care to all people as a human right,” he said. “Which guarantees education, from child care to higher education, as a human right. Which guarantees the right of people to have decent and affordable housing.”

Tags Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Beto O'Rourke Cory Booker Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren John Delaney Kirsten Gillibrand Mitch McConnell Tulsi Gabbard
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