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 SchumerChuck SchumerLawmakers push Trump to restore full funding for National Guards responding to pandemic Bipartisan senators ask congressional leadership to extend census deadline Lawmakers of color urge Democratic leadership to protect underserved communities in coronavirus talks 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 TrumpDemocrat calls on White House to withdraw ambassador to Belarus nominee TikTok collected data from mobile devices to track Android users: report Peterson wins Minnesota House primary in crucial swing district 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 BidenNAACP seeks to boost Black voter turnout in six states Biden touts Trump saying Harris would be 'fine choice' for VP pick Kamala Harris: The conventional (and predictable) pick all along MORE, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisNAACP seeks to boost Black voter turnout in six states Biden touts Trump saying Harris would be 'fine choice' for VP pick Kamala Harris: The conventional (and predictable) pick all along 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 SandersBiden wins Connecticut in final presidential primary of year Vermont Rep. Peter Welch easily wins primary Three pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenKamala Harris: The conventional (and predictable) pick all along On The Money: McConnell says it's time to restart coronavirus talks | New report finds majority of Americans support merger moratorium | Corporate bankruptcies on pace for 10-year high Hillicon Valley: Facebook removed over 22 million posts for hate speech in second quarter | Republicans introduce bill to defend universities against hackers targeting COVID-19 research | Facebook's Sandberg backs Harris as VP pick 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 BennetKamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner Expanding our health force can save lives and create jobs simultaneously How Congress is preventing a Medicare bankruptcy during COVID-19 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."