Progressive activist Ady Barkan endorses Biden, urges him to pick Warren as VP

Progressive activist Ady Barkan endorses Biden, urges him to pick Warren as VP

Progressive activist Ady Barkan endorsed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Biden offers well wishes to Lebanon after deadly explosion MORE on Wednesday and encouraged him to pick Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTrump says government to review 5M Kodak loan deal Michelle Obama supporters urge Biden to pick former first lady as running mate On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again MORE (D-Mass.) as his running mate.

In an interview with The New York Times, Barkan said he recently had a conversation with Biden and that he is eager to ensure that progressives who were disappointed by the Democratic primary results do not stay on the sidelines during the general election.

“Even though he wasn’t our first choice, I don’t think that progressives and democratic socialists should sit out the election, or vote third party, and I wanted to make that clear,” Barkan said.

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“I think that the vice president and his staff understand the need to unify the party, and I think that is why they agreed to the conversation,” Barkan said. “The conversation reinforced my pre-existing understanding of Joe Biden. He is an intelligent, compassionate man who will be a vast improvement over Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE.”

Barkan, who is a prominent voice in left-wing circles and a well-regarded advocate for "Medicare for All," met with most of the Democratic White House hopefuls during the primary.

But Barkan, who has ALS and is confined to a wheelchair, said at the time that Biden refused to meet with him. He pointedly jabbed at Biden over Twitter at the time, saying: “If he’s afraid of a paralyzed man who talks politely and very slowly, how does he expect to survive a debate with Trump?”

Barkan has a long history of working with and supporting Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersLongtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package MORE (I-Vt.). However, Barkan endorsed Warren during the Democratic primary.

In his conversation with the Times, Barkan said the best thing Biden can do to “excite young progressive voters” is to pick Warren to be his vice president.

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Biden has committed to selecting a woman as his running mate. But the protests surrounding the police killing of George Floyd have raised pressure on Biden to select a woman of color to be his vice president.

Barkan said he was “devastated” when Warren dropped out of the primary, but he said he has warmed up to the idea of supporting Biden in the general election since their conversation.

“He and I have meaningfully different perspectives on the world; not only on what ails it, but on what we must do to address those maladies,” Barkan said. “And yet despite the literal and figurative distances between us, I know that the vice president heard what I was saying. He listened, he understood, and he promised to continue doing both after he is elected.”

Medicare for All is one of the primary sticking points between Biden and the progressive left. Barkan has been a longtime advocate for the progressive plan.

Biden, meanwhile, supports a plan that would keep private insurance and build on ObamaCare by adding a public option.

In their conversation, Biden told Barkan that he would work with progressives on a trillion-dollar proposal to overhaul the health care system that goes beyond what he has supported to date.

“I’m eager to get to you and your folks the remainder of what I call the entire health initiative,” Biden said. “That goes beyond Obamacare with a public option or Medicare for all, goes beyond that in terms of a whole new care network across the board, of giving people more flexibility, allowing people to not have to make choices between their job and taking care of a parent who’s dying.”