Schumer warns Democrats against 'circular firing squad' on health care

Schumer warns Democrats against 'circular firing squad' on health care
© Aaron Schwartz

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerVeronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge Liberal super PAC to run digital ads slamming Trump over Medicare comments MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday warned Democratic presidential candidates not to become so focused on the internal differences over health care that they lose sight of fighting against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE.  

In an interview with SiriusXM’s Joe Madison, Schumer cautioned against candidates turning into a "circular firing squad."

"If we get all focused on the differences between, say Bernie [Sanders] and Cory [Booker] and Mayor Pete [Buttigieg] and [John] Hickenlooper, we'll lose sight of the fact that it's Donald Trump who's now trying to reduce health care, destroy health care, get rid of it for everybody," Schumer said.

"That's a trap that we shouldn't fall into. No circular firing squads," he added.

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Schumer's remarks come after a divisive Democratic debate on Wednesday night that saw a number of battles break out over health care between former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris on 2020 endorsement: 'I am not thinking about it right now' Panel: Is Kamala Harris a hypocrite for mulling a Joe Biden endorsement? The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power MORE (D-Calif.) and other candidates. 

The battles over health care and other issues during the debate were brutal enough that Booker at one point said the White House was surely enjoying the spectacle. 

Democrats running for president are struggling with divisions over just how far to the left their health plans should go. Progressives like Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Human Rights Campaign president rips Sanders's embrace of Rogan endorsement MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Warren pledges to release Trump records if elected MORE (D-Mass.) support completely eliminating private insurance as part of a transition to single-payer "Medicare for All."

More centrist Democrats like Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetImpeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary MORE (Colo.) and Biden are pushing to strengthen ObamaCare and want to offer a government-run insurance option while letting people keep their private plans if they want to.

Biden, Bennet and other moderates argue the massive cost of Medicare for All would bankrupt the government.  

Battles over health care also dominated Tuesday night's Democratic debate featuring Warren and Sanders, and on both nights there was only a passing acknowledgement of Trump and his continuing fight to overturn ObamaCare. 

Democrats ran on protecting ObamaCare in the 2018 midterm elections, and took control of the House. Senate Democrats are trying to hammer home the message that fighting Trump's "sabotage" of ObamaCare should be the immediate focus.  

"The difference between the Democrats is a little, the difference between Democrats and Republicans is huge," Schumer said. Democrats "are united in the broad sense in health care. Every one of us is for universal health care. ... Different people have different ways to get there."