2020 Democrat Hickenlooper warns impeachment could ‘become a vehicle to help’ Trump

Hours before the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on considering articles of impeachment against President Trump, Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper said he supported such an inquiry.

But the former Colorado governor worried that impeachment would also play into Trump’s hands as he runs for re-election in 2020.

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“I support the notion that we should begin an impeachment inquiry,” Hickenlooper said Wednesday morning in an interview with Fox News and the Concord Monitor while campaigning in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire.

But he added “I think we should not kid ourselves. Under no circumstances will [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell ever allow impeachment to go forward. Democrats have to realize that if we ever want to beat Donald Trump, we have to do it at the ballot box.”

Hickenlooper held out hope that “when we do the inquiry and have the subpoenas and get the real facts, somehow there might be a way that those facts take us towards impeachment.”

But he added that “it would have to be extraordinary and almost unimaginable for Mitch McConnell to let it get through.”

And Hickenlooper highlighted that with McConnell – an ally of the president – controlling the Senate, impeachment “would become a vehicle to help” Trump. The impeachment bid on the House floor Wednesday is expected to fail.

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Hickenlooper, a geologist by training who later started a successful brewery in downtown Denver before being twice elected the city’s mayor, served two terms as Colorado governor. On the presidential campaign trail, he often touts his record as governor in addressing climate change and reaching near-universal health care coverage.

But he's no fan of the "Medicare-for-all" health care plan being promoted by many of his more progressive rivals for the Democratic nomination, which could push millions of Americans off their current private insurance and into a government-run system.

“I would argue that Medicare-for-all would require 150-180 million Americans to give up their insurance and some people hate their private insurance, but there’s well over half that every poll demonstrates they don’t want to give up their private insurance. So I don’t see that happening but I do believe in a public option,” he explained.

The former governor said that his public option would be “some kind of combination of Medicare, maybe Medicare advantage.”

And he said that he would reach universal health care “through evolution, not revolution.”

Hickenlooper will appear in the second round of Democratic nomination debates later this month. But the Democratic National Committee is raising the thresholds for the third round, in September. And it’s likely Hickenlooper will struggle to meet the criteria, which includes having 130,000 individuals donating to the campaign.

The former governor had a lackluster second quarter of fundraising – bringing in just $1 million over the past three months. And a few weeks ago much of his senior staff jumped ship over differences with the candidate over the future of the campaign.

Hickenlooper said he’s at a fundraising disadvantage, noting that “these rules are not designed to favor governors from smaller states. There are five and a half million people in Colorado. It’s not a gigantic state like California or New York.”

But Montana Gov. Steve Bullock – whose state has a much smaller population than Colorado – outraised Hickenlooper by nearly $1 million in the April-May period.

“Fundraising is hard,” he lamented.

But Hickenlooper said he’ll work harder and noted, “I’m willing to put in the time.”

“We’ll have enough money” he vowed. “I don’t see the money being the reason we don’t continue the campaign.”