Green New Deal, 'Medicare-for-all' draw fresh scrutiny from 2020 Dems

BEDFORD, N.H. – John Delaney’s not your typical 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.

With many of his rivals for the nomination running to the left, the former congressman from Maryland is carving out a more moderate path and taking aim at two top wish-list items for the progressive base — the Green New Deal and “Medicare-for-all.”

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And he’s not the only one. While every other Senate Democrat running for president has signed onto the Green New Deal, potential presidential candidate and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown defended his decision not to on Tuesday: “I don’t need to co-sponsor every bill that others think they need to co-sponsor to show my progressive politics.”

Speaking at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Brown also said he views expanding Medicare to Americans age 50 and older as a more workable step than moving directly to single-payer health care.

Delaney was even more pointed while speaking Tuesday morning at “Politics and Eggs,” a must stop in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire. Delaney called for a “sense of common purpose and unity” and described himself as centrist, “which I don’t think is a dirty word.”

The longshot for the nomination who launched his White House bid in July of 2017 – just six months into Donald Trump’s presidency – highlighted his own push to combat climate change, touting his bill to implement a carbon tax.

But he took aim at 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.

“I don’t actually think the Green New Deal is the right way to go,” he spotlighted. “I certainly support the fact that it’s put a lot of attention on this incredibly important issue but I don’t support the notion of making it harder to get something done on climate change.”

“If we want to actually make a difference on climate change, we have to do something right away and it’s got to be big. And there are some things that we can do that are big right away,” he told reporters. “So let’s not do things to make that it harder. If you actually tie climate change to universal healthcare, then you’re making it five times harder to do anything on climate change.”

Delaney’s stance puts him squarely at odds with many of his White House rivals. Seven senators either running for the Democratic presidential nomination or seriously weighing bids have signed on as co-sponsors to the Green New Deal, which was announced last week by freshman progressive rising star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and veteran Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

On health care, Delaney called for fixing the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, and said if elected he would “roll out a plan for universal care, which would make health care a right.”

But he criticized “Medicare-for-all,” pointing to the “bill that currently exists in the United States Senate, which I do not think is good policy.”

“I think we should use Medicare as a model without Medicare-for-all,” he added.

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Delaney, who spotlighted that he “was ranked third most bipartisan of the Congress” during his three terms on Capitol Hill, said “I’m running basically a fundamentally different race” than his Democratic rivals. “My campaign is about solving problems, focusing on the future and bringing the country together. So I’m a unifier, not a divider, a problem solver, not a goalpost mover.”

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Asked by Fox News if many of the other Democratic White House hopefuls are too far to the left, Delaney said: “I think I’m the only one running as a problem solver. And I think there are two ways to seek the presidency. You can try to divide and create some goals that are unrealistic. I think that’s’ wrong … or you can actually try to unify the country.”

Delaney also briefly slammed President Trump, saying: “I think our current president is the divider in chief in many ways. I think he wakes every day and tries to divide the country. But I don’t even blame him because I think he’s punctuation of decades of terrible politics.”

He warned of chilling political future, saying the country’s “potentially looking at a world where every political disagreement in the future could be met with violent protests outside the Capitol.”

And he called for presidents to go to the floor of the House of Representatives every three months to answer questions from members of Congress live on national TV.

The 55-year-old Delaney was raised in northern New Jersey by working-class parents. He found success as a banking entrepreneur and is worth nearly $90 million, which made him one of the wealthiest members of the U.S. House during his three terms in Congress.

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Delaney’s appearance at “Politics and Eggs” came during a jam-packed three-day swing through New Hampshire, his 14th trip to the state since launching his campaign for president.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.