Touting that he’s proven he can bring people together “to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver,” former two-term Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday morning launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I’m running for president because we need dreamers in Washington but we also need to get things done,” Hickenlooper said in a video announcing his White House campaign
Taking aim at Republican President Trump, Hickenlooper said a major reason he’s running is because “we’re facing a crisis that threatens everything we stand for.”
And repeating a line he’s used on the campaign trail, he explained that “as a skinny kid with coke bottle glasses and funny last name, I stood up to my fair share of bullies.”
The 67-year-old geologist turned successful startup brewpub owner, who later served two terms as Denver mayor before being elected Colorado governor, joins a crowded field of contenders vying for the nomination.
Hickenlooper, who in January finished up his second term steering Colorado, becomes the second sitting or former governor to enter the race. Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee announced his candidacy on Friday.
Like Inslee, Hickenlooper faces a long-shot bid against a number of higher-profile contenders such as Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who served as Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama, is also running, as are Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
A number other Democrats are moving toward White House bids, including former Vice President Joe Biden, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Rep. Eric Swalwell of California.
In his video, Hickenlooper spotlighted the challenges he faced during his first term as governor, from the historic recession to devastating droughts and forest fires and floods to the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora.
“We beat the NRA by enacting universal background checks and banning high capacity magazines,” he touted.
Hickenlooper also highlighted passing through a divided legislature health care legislation that now covers “nearly 95 percent of all Coloradans.” And he spotlighted bringing environmentalists and fossil fuel companies together to create “the toughest methane emission laws in the country” and moving the state from “40th in job growth to the number one economy in America.”
The listing of his progressive achievements is aimed at blunting perceptions of Hickenlooper as a moderate Democrat not in lockstep with the base.
While many of his rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination have wholeheartedly supported both the Green New Deal and "Medicare-for-all," two top wish-list items for the progressive base of the party, Hickenlooper expressed some reservations during a stop last month in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House.
“We will get to some version of single payer, but single payer doesn’t include getting rid of insurance companies,” he told reporters when asked about Medicare-for-all.
Asked about the Green New Deal, the sweeping proposal that aims to transform the country’s economy to fight climate change while enacting a host of new health care and welfare programs, Hickenlooper told Fox News that he hadn’t seen all of the details of the plan, but “I’m going to guess that 99 percent of what’s in the Green New Deal I will be happy to embrace.”
But he said support for the Green New Deal shouldn’t be “a litmus test that you’re either with us or wrong.”
The Republican National Committee, though, tagged the former governor as yet another "liberal" joining the 2020 field, in response to his announcement Monday.
“John Hickenlooper is the latest tax-and-spend liberal to join the race. But according to Hickenlooper, he’s actually ‘a lot more progressive’ than his far-left opponents. In a primary dominated by socialist policies like the $93 trillion ‘Green New Deal,’ that puts him way outside the mainstream,” RNC Communications Director Michael Ahrens said in a statement.
Hickenlooper is expected to formally kick off his campaign on Thursday, with what’s being billed as a “hometown send-off” event in Denver. The next day the former governor heads to Iowa – the state that kicks off the presidential caucus and primary calendar – for two days of campaigning.