- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 10, 2019

Democratic contenders for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination are being forced to defend themselves as capitalists, amid calls from the far left for expansive government policies like Medicare-for-all and a Green New Deal.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat and a declared 2020 candidate, said it would be “just wrong” to call her a socialist and that she believes in “markets that work.”

“I believe in markets. Markets that work. Markets that have a cop on the beat and have real rules and everybody follows them,” Ms. Warren said in an interview for CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Ms. Warren also said over the weekend at the South by Southwest gathering in Texas that she is “not” a democratic socialist — a label embraced by Sen. Bernard Sanders, another 2020 Democratic presidential contender.

“Bernie has to speak to what democratic socialism is … and the centrists have to speak to whatever they are doing,” Ms. Warren said.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, another 2020 presidential candidate, said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that he’s “happy to say I’m a capitalist.”

“But I think at a certain point, labels do nothing but divide us and what I’m trying to build this campaign around is to say that as a country, we’ve got to stop finding every excuse to divide ourselves and begin working together,” he said.

In an interview with MSNBC last week, Mr. Hickenlooper didn’t answer directly when he was asked multiple times whether he considered himself a capitalist.

That had prompted a response from former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is weighing an independent bid for the White House in 2020.

“If even a successful businessman and entrepreneur like Governor Hickenlooper can’t openly support capitalism in the Democratic primary, it’s clear this is Senator Sanders’ party now,” Mr. Schultz said on Twitter.

Other 2020 Democratic contenders like Sens. Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, and former Rep. John Delaney have said recently that they’re not socialists.

Mr. Delaney says he believes in “market-based capitalism.”

“The wrong answer is socialism; in its pure form, it is a bad economic model and it’s the wrong political approach,” he said in a CNN op-ed published over the weekend. “This is something we need to talk openly about because despite the real-world calamity that a Trump White House represents for our republic, we seem determined to fight out this primary in the abstract, debating the need to pursue a fundamentally different economic model for our country.”

Still, when Mr. Sanders jumped into the race last month, President Trump’s re-election campaign team said the independent Vermont senator is the one who’s driving the conversation.

“Bernie Sanders has already won the debate in the Democrat primary, because every candidate is embracing his brand of socialism,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said.

Mr. Trump has tried to play up the leftward shift among some Democrats who are pushing for policies like Medicare-for-all, vowing recently that America will never be a “socialist country.”

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