Election 2020

‘Pragmatist’ Hickenlooper Slams Far-Left Democratic Colleagues for ‘Big, Bold Ideas’ That Won’t Happen

Former Colorado governor shared his 'moderate' approach (imagine that!) during a Fox News conversation

He might be out of the running soon anyway.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and current Democratic candidate for 2020 indicated this week on “The Story with Martha MacCallum” on Fox News in so many words that he’s not marching in lockstep with a majority of those running for the presidency in his party — and that he doesn’t see the value of trying to ram through “big, bold ideas” that are not likely to go anywhere anyway.

This sentiment is largely anathema to many currently on the far-Left.

But Hickenlooper told guest-anchor Bill Hemmer on Thursday night, “I am trying to point out that we need a health care plan, a vision for this country, that is going to work. And that those of us who believe that some health care should be a right, not a privilege — we want to get it done fast. And, you know, I don’t see us being able to do Medicare for All in a realistic way.”

Regarding the Green New Deal and climate change, Hickenlooper said, “I am as adamant as anyone about climate change. You know, I’ve got a master’s in geology. I understand a good part of the science, that we have to have a fierce urgency … I believe it [climate change] is happening and I think if we don’t act pretty rapidly, we are going to suffer … serious, irreversible consequences. So, the question is how do you get there? And that’s what we’re debating.”

When Hemmer noted that others in the Democrat Party — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — slammed those who call the push for urgent climate change policy a “distraction,” Hickenlooper replied, “I say that the distraction is creating something that won’t get out of Congress, right? Or if it does, it will probably end up in the courts. And my sense is that, you know, we are at record low unemployment anyway. And if we are going to do the kinds of investments we need to make to adequately address climate change, everyone is going to be wanting — everyone is going to have a job. We’re going to be looking for more workers. We’re not going to have an excess of workforce.”

Related: Why the Liberal Squad Members Are All One-Term Congresswomen

“So fighting over these things isn’t really constructive,” he added. “But putting them in a bill I think is a distraction.”

Hemmer aptly noted that “some candidates are really pulling to the Left and others are trying to keep you in the moderate range.” And this appears to be a kind of “civil war” within the party. “Who wins?” he asked him.

Hickenlooper responded, “That’s why we have a long primary.” He pivoted again to health care issues. “Since President [Donald] Trump took office, seven million Americans don’t have insurance that had it before. So we are going in the wrong direction. We can have this battle within the Democratic Party to see, you know, which avenue is the one that the party decides is the right one. [But] we’ve got to keep our eye, our focus.”

Hemmer brought up the comments by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) this week during the debate in Detroit, when she said, in essence, “Why are people even on the stage if they’re not going to think about big, bold ideas.” “She’s calling out people like you on that,” noted Hemmer.

“I know, I know,” the candidate replied. “This is the big, bold idea, right? I mean, to actually get to universal health care and make it work, to create an avenue by which — I mean, many of us up there were proposing a public option with a sliding scale, that over time, if it succeeded, [would help] people migrate into it. And ultimately, it might take 15 or 20 years. But you’d end up with, you know, some version of a single-payer [plan] or at least a broad variety of competitive sources for people to get coverage.”

Related: Joe Biden Played One Role in the Wednesday Night Debate: Punching Bag

Hickenlooper also commented that he has problems with the notion that former President Barack Obama and his policy ideas have largely fallen out of favor among so many far-Left Democrats today.

“That was a part I had the most trouble with … I mean, there is a man who was attacked from the Republican side as being far too Left, way too extreme. And suddenly now, the party says he’s not anywhere near — [that] he wasn’t liberal enough. It’s not a fair criticism.”

Hemmer said, “So, then, are you a true progressive — or has the party left you, Governor?”

“Well, I don’t agree with the avenue, the pathway, [that] they are choosing to get there. So I agree that we’ve got to address climate change hard and fast. I agree that we’ve got to get to universal health care coverage. I just disagree on how we get there. I’m more of a pragmatist,” he said. “And I would argue that a pragmatist isn’t someone who rejects or doesn’t chase after big, bold ideas. A pragmatist is someone who figures out how to get them done.”

“If you’re a moderate and trying to be pragmatic in how you approach these things, it’s a little harder to get, you know, the people that are generally small donors fired up.”

The next Democratic primary debate will take place on September 12-13 in Houston, Texas — and by then, roughly half the current field may be cut.

Due to stricter eligibility rules, Hickenlooper as well as eight other individuals are likely to be trimmed from the current crop of candidates. “Candidates have until August 28 to both receive contributions from at lesat 130,000 unique donors and crack 2 percent in at least four major polls, as determined by the [Democratic National Committee], if they want to get to Space City,” as The New York Post explained it in a series of pieces.

Potentially on the chopping block, aside from Hickenlooper, are the following: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, and self-help author Marianne Williamson.

“I’ve got some work to do” toward making that cut, Hickenlooper told Hemmer. “I do have some work to do.”

“Can you get there?” the Fox News host asked.

“Well, we’ll see. The key here, obviously, is the small donors. And if you’re a moderate and trying to be pragmatic in how you approach these things, it’s a little harder to get, you know, the people that are generally small donors fired up. I think there is a large, quiet majority out there that is … that is more pragmatic and wants to see, you know, change happening not quite so rapidly. I’ve got to figure out how to — I need a mission,” he admitted.

See this video — and share your thoughts below.

meet the author

LifeZette's editor-in-chief Maureen Mackey can be reached at [email protected].