A room full of San Francisco Democrats booed former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) on Saturday after he warned against embracing socialism and socialist policies ahead of the 2020 presidential race, suggesting that it could place the entire Democratic party outside of the political mainstream.
"If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer," said Hickenlooper, who is running for president in 2020.
Hickenlooper, polling near the bottom of the 24-candidate Democratic field, anticipated the reaction. He amassed a centrist record as governor, working with a Republican-controlled legislature for most of his two terms in office, though he scored progressive wins in his final two years on the job after Democrats reclaimed control of the state House and Senate.
He said allowing Republicans to define the Democratic brand would hurt the party's chances of winning the White House in 2020. -The Hill
"If we don't draw a clear distinction between Democrats and our candidates and socialism, the Republicans will paint us into a corner that we can't get out of," Hickenlooper told The Hill shortly after his speech. "Massive government expansions may not be strictly speaking socialism, but trust me Republicans will make it seem like socialism. In places like Ohio and Michigan and North Carolina and Wisconsin, places we have to win to beat Trump, we'll be starting out ten yards behind."
"We need to be laser-focused on winning this election, and that's going to mean focusing on kitchen table programs that will actually improve people's quality of life," he added.