Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper said that 2020 rivals Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are “demonizing” business in America, arguing that it’s going to make it harder for the progressive candidates to get elected.
“I think in a more general way, (Sanders is) demonizing business,” Hickenlooper told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “Newsroom” Wednesday after the first night of CNN’s Democratic presidential debates. “Both he and Senator Warren are consistently saying the problem is business.”
Warren, who represents Massachusetts, has proposed breaking up big tech companies while Sanders, who represents Vermont, has railed against the pharmaceutical industry and supports importing drugs from other countries.
“They’re careful to try and tackle only large businesses,” Hickenlooper said on CNN Wednesday. “Every large business started as a small business and every small business wants to get larger.”
Hickenlooper, once a brewery owner before he entered politics, also said he’s a capitalist, but thinks of himself more so as a small business owner.
His comments come as his party is wrestling with its relationship with socialism as Sanders and a few others who identify as democratic socialists embrace policies that Republicans try to label socialist.
Hickenlooper has also staked out a more moderate position in a Democratic 2020 field that has drifted to the left.
The divide within the party was on display during Tuesday’s CNN presidential debate in Detroit, and Hickenlooper, who calls himself a “pragmatist progressive,” argued that Americans won’t buy into radical ideas like “Medicare for All.”
He told CNN that being pragmatic “doesn’t mean you don’t have big ideas. It means you know how to figure out how to get them done.”
Asked if Warren and Sanders are being insincere on what they can accomplish, Hickenlooper said, “I don’t think they’re being disingenuous. They clearly believe what they’re saying.”