After spending much of the night absorbing attacks from moderate Democrats, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren counterpunched, and former Maryland congressman John Delaney just happened to be in the way.
“I don’t know why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” Warren blasted Delaney.
The line came in response to Delaney arguing that candidates like Sanders and Warren are too liberal to take on President Trump in the 2020 general election for president.
“Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises. When we run on things that are workable, not fairy-tale economics,” Delaney said.
“Look at the story of Detroit: It’s an amazing city that we’re in. This city is turning around because the government and the private sector are working well together. That has to be our model going forward,” he continued. “And focus on those kitchen-table, pocketbook issues that matter to hardworking Americans.”
That line — that Democrats should focus on “real solutions, not impossible promises” — is one he repeated several times on the debate stage Tuesday night.
And Delaney wasn’t alone.
Half a dozen more centrist candidates, like former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, all dedicated time to argue that policies endorsed by Warren and Sanders are too sweeping and unrealistic.
They took issue in particular with Medicare for All, each attacking the plan as too politically risky to capture a majority of American voters in 2020.
“It took us decades of false starts to get the Affordable Care Act. So let's actually build on it — a public option, allowing anyone to buy in,” Montana Gov. Bullock said.
Pre-empting those criticisms, Warren lobbed a thinly veiled attack against Klobuchar early in the night, saying that Democrats won’t win the White House in 2020 with “small ideas and spinelessness.”
“Our biggest problem in Washington is corruption. It is giant corporations that have taken our government and are holding it by the throat. And we need to have the courage to fight back against them,” Warren said.
Responding directly to criticisms of Medicare for All, Warren repeated several times that pharmaceutical and health insurance companies “do not have the God-given right to suck billions of dollars out of our health care system.”
“It will take real courage to fight against insurance companies,” Warren said.
On her electability, Warren said, “I know how to fight, and I know how to win,” adding that she remembers hearing similar comments about Barack Obama’s chances of capturing the White House in 2008 — and Donald Trump’s in 2016.
Cover image: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., participates in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)