John Hickenlooper, the former Colorado governor who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, warned his fellow Democrats that they must avoid being labeled as socialists or else risking reelecting "the worst president this country's ever had."
"If we don't stand up and say that we Democrats don't stand for socialism, we're going to end up reelecting the worst president this country's ever had," Hickenlooper told the NRP radio news program Morning Edition. Hickenlooper also discussed the Green New Deal championed by Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (who is registered as an independent but it seeking the Democratic nomination).
"I don't think we're going to address climate change by guaranteeing every American a federal job, which is what part of the Green New Deal was," Hickenlooper told NPR. "I don't think we're going to address the spiraling inflation in health care by forcibly telling 150 million people that we're going to take away their private insurance. These are what a lot of Americans look at as facets or aspects of socialism."
Hickenlooper also praised the Democratic Party's ability to include people with a diverse range of ideas and perspectives, arguing that his experience as Colorado governor helped him learn how to do the same thing when it came to implementing policy.
"One of the things I've always loved about the Democratic Party is that it is a big-tent party, and it embraces opportunity for all people," Hickenlooper told NPR. "I'm running for president because I think my life experience can address this. This Trump-fueled national crisis of division has been moving us backward."
He added, "I look at my experience of bringing people together — businesses and nonprofits, and Republicans and Democrats — and to really get things done; to get to near-universal health care, to have the No. 1 economy in the country for three consecutive years, I think that record stands for itself. ... I think in some [ways] I'm the only person running who has actually accomplished what everyone else is talking about."
When speaking with Salon earlier this year about his presidential campaign, Hickenlooper defined himself "as someone with strong progressive values." He also said that did not agree with the sharp divisions being made between moderates and liberals within the Democratic Party, arguing that "I share the values of the liberal side in terms of… again, you go down to almost every one of these issues… I mean, we’re the purple states where we actually got universal background checks passed. We limited the size of magazines. This session, I think that our general assembly will get the red flag law passed; but we did it in a more incremental way than many of the, what you call, more liberal side, than what they advocate."
He added, I think, probably, more people look at me as closer to the Beto O’Rourke/Joe Biden side of things of 'let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater,' but let’s take firm steps and as we approve things, make sure we’re doing so in such a way that it’ll be permanent."