In the crowd of 2020 competitors, Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney sees himself as “probably the most moderate candidate in this field.” The former Maryland congressman told PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff in a Wednesday interview that he’s very focused on problem-solving, and that he wants to bring back the notion that the U.S. can get things done.
“Our next president needs to be a responsible president. And a responsible president would bring this country together” around a common purpose and new, big ideas, he said.
Delaney, who was the first Democrat to declare his 2020 candidacy, said he is a proponent of a public option for health care, but rejects the premise of Medicare for All, a proposal introduced by fellow candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and endorsed by a number of other Democratic opponents, calling it “bad policy.”
“We have ample evidence to suggest that if the government is the only payer in health care, it will never pay enough,” he added.
Instead, Delaney laid out a plan to establish government health care open to every American under the age of 65, in addition to Medicare. But unlike Sanders’ plan, Delaney allows Americans to opt out for private coverage. “It gives the American people what they fundamentally want, which is choices and options.”
It’s been nearly two years since Delaney entered the 2020 Democratic race in July 2017. Since then, the former Maryland congressman has toured all 99 counties in Iowa as part of an expansive grassroots campaign to win the first race of the primary calendar.
Delaney has not yet reached the 65,000 individual donor threshold set by the Democratic National Committee to qualify for the debate stage in June (he has met the committee’s polling threshold). Despite the increasingly crowded Democratic field, Delaney said he’s confident about his chances.
“I think this race is wide open,” he said. “At the end of the day, my ideas are better. And the debates will start making that point.”
Other highlights from the interview
On the ongoing battle with the Mueller report: Delaney endorsed efforts by his former Democratic colleagues in the House to access the full, unredacted Mueller report as part of their oversight responsibilities. Asked about President Donald Trump’s declaration of executive privilege over the document, Delaney tempered the idea that it might move “them closer or not to impeachment,” adding that Democrats are “going to push to get that report, as they should.”
On lifting struggling cities: Asked about his home state’s biggest city, Baltimore, and its struggles with poverty, violence and racial tensions, Delaney said solutions come with investments in public education, job creation and transportation. “The cost of doing nothing is not nothing,” he said. “You’ve got to make it a priority because if you don’t make it a priority, you actually spend more money.”