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Washington Post Report - June 1, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper found a way to stand out at a crowded gathering of California Democrats: He denounced “socialism,” and got booed.

“If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer,” Hickenlooper said at a Saturday afternoon session of the state party’s annual convention. As the jeering grew louder, Hickenlooper added: “You know, if we’re not careful, we’re going to end up reelecting the worst president in American history.”

Hickenlooper’s presidential campaign had previewed the remarks hours before he spoke. The Coloradan, who was a geologist and a brewer before entering politics, has repeatedly argued for Democrats to embrace and reform capitalism.

In a May op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, he wrote that he was “running to save” the “only economic system that can support a strong middle class.”

In an interview, Hickenlooper said he had spoken “inartfully,” and that he did not mean to single out any of his opponents, though Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the only self-identified “democratic socialist” seeking the White House.

“We’ve got to clearly show that we reject socialism,” Hickenlooper said. “We’ve got to do that because Republicans will try to make us into socialists even if we’re not. If we’re not willing to draw a bright line and say we’re not socialists, we could quite possibly reelect this president.”

Some in the audience disagreed with Hickenlooper’s thinking. Jonathan Tasini, a labor activist who endorsed Sanders in 2016 and published a book about the senator’s ideas, said that Hickenlooper had effectively talked his way out of the 2020 race. Hickenlooper had also been booed for saying that Democrats should not “[remove] private insurance from over a hundred million Americans,” a reference to Medicare-for-all legislation. ...
Read the full report at the Washington Post