2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate

2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate
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MIAMI — Democratic presidential candidates on Wednesday battled over socialism ahead of the first presidential debate, the latest sign that contenders are grappling over the future direction of the party and the message they believe is best suited to defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE in the general election.

Former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperLeft off debate stage, Bullock all-in on Iowa Yang says he would not run as a third-party candidate The Hill's Morning Report - Hurricane Dorian devastates the Bahamas, creeps along Florida coast MORE (D) walked through the spin room at the Ziff Ballet Opera House, telling reporters that embracing socialism is a surefire general election loser for Democrats.

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“That’s a tough hill to climb in Ohio, in Michigan, in North Carolina, in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin,” Hickenlooper said. “These are states where they care about jobs and are very cautious about this thing called socialism. They get anxious about that.”

Hickenlooper was asked directly if socialism is a winning strategy for the party.

“No,” he responded. “The word socialism by itself has a lot of baggage in this country and especially in swing states ... it’s not a winning solution and I continue to say you don’t need massive government expansion to change this country.”

 

As Hickenlooper addressed reporters from the floor of the elegant opera house in downtown Miami, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi set to unveil drug price plan | Abortion rate in US hits lowest level since Roe v. Wade | Dems threaten to subpoena Juul MORE (I-Vt.), a self-described democratic socialist, was in the adjacent room giving an interview to MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt.

Sanders gave an impassioned defense of democratic socialism, telling Hunt that he’ll explain to voters why it shouldn’t be viewed as outside the mainstream. 

“I’ll take care of the label, first by telling the American people what I believe,” Sanders said.

“To me, what democratic socialism is about, is saying health care is a human right. If you work 40 hours a week you should earn a living wage. Education is a human right, and by the way, we’re going to have a tax system that is fair ... we are going to ask the wealthiest and large corporations to pay their fair share and start paying taxes.” 

Sanders this week unveiled a plan to pay off $1.6 trillion in student loan debt.

Progressives have also embraced “Medicare for All” and the Green New Deal, which critics such as Hickenlooper have described as “massive government expansions.”

Hickenlooper and Sanders will share the debate stage on Thursday night, the second night of debates. 

Hickenlooper and two other low-polling candidates, Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' Gabbard drives coverage in push to qualify for October debate Bennet launches first TV ads in Iowa MORE (Colo.) and former Rep. John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyKrystal Ball: Reality debunks Biden's 'Medicare for all' smear 2020 candidates keep fitness on track while on the trail Bennet launches first TV ads in Iowa MORE (Md.), have warned the party against embracing Medicare for All and other so-called socialist policies.