Several lesser-known Democratic presidential candidates attacked liberal front-runners Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren from the first moments of Tuesday night’s debate, saying pursuing their policies will lead to the reelection of President Trump.
“Folks, we have a choice. We can do down the road Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren want to take us — Medicare for all, free everything,” said former Maryland Rep. John Delaney. Or they could follow his lead, he said, by offering “real solutions, not impossible promises.”
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper pointed to the party’s successful candidates in the 2018 midterm election to argue that the party must nominate a more moderate nominee.
“Last year Democrats flipped 40 Republican seats in the House, and not one of those 40 Democrats support the policies of the front-runners on the center of this stage,” he said of Sanders and Warren. “I share their progressive values, but I’m a little more pragmatic.”
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, appearing for the first time on a presidential debate stage, said when he watched last month’s debate, he saw candidates focused on scoring points and offering a “wish list” of policies rather than “making sure Americans know we hear their voices.”
Bullock noted that he had been elected three times in a red state.
“Not by compromising our values, but by getting stuff done,” he said. “That’s how we get back the places we lost.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota also pointed to her success in winning elections in the Midwest as she took a moderate tack.
“You’re going to hear a lot of promises up here. I’m going to tell you this — yes, I have bold ideas, but they are grounded in reality,” she said.
In addition to their attacks on the front-runners, the other common ground among these candidates is their lack of support in the polls. They are polling at less than 2% in a Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, and may not make the cut to appear in the next round of Democratic debates in September.