Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney is warning that the "Medicare-for-all" bill supported by many of his rivals for the 2020 nomination “is bad policy and bad politics and will help get Donald Trump re-elected.”
In an interview Wednesday, the long-shot candidate also warned about "intolerance to different ideas" inside the party tent after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently told him to “sashay away” over his health care stance.
And pouring more fuel on his fiery fight with the left flank of the party, Delaney’s campaign said Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont – a longtime proponent of Medicare-for-all – “has no business being the nominee for the Democratic Party.”
The statements amount to Delaney's latest push to warn against the party's embrace of more liberal policies and candidates. But it's a lonely road.
The former three-term congressman from Maryland, who’s far more moderate than most of the other nearly two-dozen Democratic White House hopefuls, sparked a chorus of boos from the audience this past weekend at the California Democrats' annual convention when he declared that “Medicare-for-all may sound good, but it’s actually not good policy, nor is it good politics.”
Ocasio-Cortez then took aim at Delaney, saying it was time for him to “sashay away.”
“Since there’s so many people running for President (& not enough for Senate), instead of obsessing over who‘s a 'frontrunner,' maybe we can start w some general eliminations,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “This awful, untrue line got boo’ed for a full minute. John Delaney, thank you but please sashay away.”
The next day, Delaney challenged the congresswoman to debate him on the issue.
“Hey @AOC, we have the same goal, universal healthcare for everyone, we just have different ways of getting there. Healthcare is the #1 issue for voters, so let’s debate the way forward. Any show of your choosing. Healthcare is too important for tweets, we need real discussion,” he wrote on Twitter.
Delaney told Fox News on Wednesday that “I’ve got nothing against her and I don’t think I’ve said a word about her since she’s been elected. And she basically told me to quit the race because she disagrees with my approach to create universal health care. So I simply said ‘if you feel this strongly about it, and since health care is the number one issue affecting the American people, why don’t we debate it.’”
After Ocasio-Cortez turned down his invitation to face off, Delaney said: “I was disappointed she didn’t do it because I think you’ve got to back your words up.”
And he warned that “intolerance to different ideas is part of the problem. And that is something I think that is getting very dangerous and concerning in the Democratic Party right now.”
He also argued that having a Democratic nominee who supports Medicare-for-all “makes it really hard” to defeat Republican President Trump in next year’s general election.
“In the Medicare for all bill, it makes private insurance illegal. And there’s 150 million Americans who have private insurance and most of them like it. And I think the Republicans are not going to be afraid to talk about this and they’re going to pound it over the American people’s heads and make them afraid that the Democrats are going to make them lose their health insurance, and tell them that they’ve got to go on a government website to get their health insurance,” he said.
Delaney touted his health care plan, highlighting it’s “the largest expansion of government health care since the creation of Medicare. It gives every single American health care as a right and they get it for free. But what it does also do is allow them if they want to have choices and keep their private insurance. And because of that difference, I’m being told to leave the debate.”
While Delaney chided fellow Democrats for intolerance, his campaign said it was time for Sanders to go.
“I’m sure Sen. Sanders is a nice guy, but he has no business being the nominee for the Democratic Party. Is there really a world where anyone thinks that putting Sanders at the top of the ticket makes it easier to beat Donald Trump? If that’s the goal, which it should be, Sanders is the wrong choice,” Delaney press secretary Michael Hopkins said.
Some critics have charged that Delaney, a long-shot for the nomination who’s been running for the White House for nearly two years, was looking to get booed at the California Democratic Party convention in order to grab some attention, which is exactly what happened.
But Delaney pushed back against such criticism, noting “I wrote a book a year and a half ago that laid out my whole health care plan and why single payer is a bad way to go.”
Delaney, who brings up the issue of health care often during campaign stops, said that “this is not like some new thing I decided to talk about.”