John Delaney and John Hickenlooper both took an interesting approach to the California Democratic Convention last weekend, receiving boos from the room in response to their stances on Medicare for All and “socialism.”
Delaney and Hickenlooper are running on two of the more moderate platforms (for Democrats, anyway), especially in regard to healthcare policy. And while the booing isn’t helpful for their standing among key California activists, both candidates are aiming to convince the rest of the party that their centrist-leaning policies make them the better choice to win the general election.
“You know, if we’re not careful, we’re going to end up helping to reelect the worst president in American history,” Hickenlooper said from the convention stage.
Getting booed may actually have been part of the plan in an attempt to stand out in the incredibly crowded field, and to build an image they think could better win over swing-state voters later on.
Delaney Speaks Out Against Medicare For All
“Medicare for all may sound good,” says Delaney. “But it’s actually not good policy, nor is it good politics.”
Despite receiving a negative reaction from the crowd in California, Delaney’s comments spurred headlines and earned him some time in the limelight on national news shows. While Delaney has spoken out against single-payer Medicare, he actually supports universal healthcare and has rolled out policy outlining how he would approach healthcare if elected president.
“While we were disappointed by the reaction in California, we certainly weren’t surprised. We didn’t go to California expecting to get booed, but we’re certainly not running away from it,” said Michael Starr Hopkins, Delaney’s National Press Secretary. “This is a debate that we need to have within the party. I’d rather we get booed than support bad policy.”
During his interviews on national news outlets, Delaney has advocated for universal healthcare as a basic right for Americans. However, he believes that the option of private insurance should be preserved for those who wish to stay on their current plan or acquire private insurance when their circumstances allow for it.
Delaney says people have shown consistently that they want to have universal coverage as a right, but “the American people also want to have choices.” Rather than having the government as the sole payer, Delaney hopes to see the government, the private sector and the non-profit sector all working together to provide Americans everywhere with guaranteed coverage, as well as options.
“Study after study has proven that if Medicare were the only payer, most of the hospitals in the country would close,” said Delaney during an appearance on Making Money with Charles Payne.
Instead, under his proposed policy, Delaney says Americans could opt-out of government coverage, receive a small tax credit for doing so, and go buy their own health insurance if they so desire.
Hickenlooper Steers Clear of “Socialism”
“Let me be clear – if we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big, progressive goals, socialism is not the answer,” Hickenlooper said.
Like Delaney, Hickenlooper was similarly booed by the California audience last weekend. But the Washington Post’s David Weigel writes that “by denouncing both socialism and Medicare-for-all from the convention podium, Hickenlooper lost the room but gained a national audience.”
After his comments from the convention went viral and earned him national attention, Hickenlooper’s campaign sent out a fundraising email-blast to take advantage of the moment. The email employed the tagline, “Socialism is not the answer,” but acknowledged the need for “bold” policies to solve problems surrounding healthcare, climate change, and economic issues.
Hickenlooper is notably concerned with the Democratic Party beating Trump in swing states, citing his victory in the “purple” state of Colorado in 2014.
“Massive government expansions may not be, strictly speaking, socialism, but trust me,” said Hickenlooper. “Republicans will make it seem like socialism. In places like Ohio and Michigan and North Carolina and Wisconsin, places we have to win to beat Trump, we’ll be starting out ten yards behind.”
In the fundraising email, the campaign boasted how successful his moderate strategies were in developing his state of Colorado – including the expansion of Medicaid which increased coverage state-wide.
“In Colorado, we got to 95% healthcare coverage, and jumped from 40th in job creation to the #1 economy in the nation. We got there by working with nonprofits and business, with Democrats and Republicans, and with progressive policies that worked for everyone,” the email read.
Both Delaney and Hickenlooper have continued to speak out about their support for increasing healthcare coverage, but their lack of specific support for Medicare for All was off-putting to those attending in California. Many polls show strong support from Democratic primary voters and caucus-goers for some form of a national single-payer or Medicare for All system, which could be problematic for both contenders if pressed on their positions in the debates.
Still, with so many candidates running, this more centrist lane offers up a chance to stand out and make news. Democrats in Iowa may see a version of their California speech this weekend at the Hall of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids. The crowd’s reaction there could indicate how effective that approach would be in Iowa, the lead-off state.
by Josh Cook