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John Delaney: ‘We need to become the party of ideas’

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Little Village is posting videos of all 19 speeches made by the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame celebration in Cedar Rapids, so readers can hear each candidate in his or her own words.

John Delaney at the Iowa Democratic Hall of Fame celebration, Jun. 9, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

John Delaney took the stage at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame celebration to the sound of Johnny Cash singing, “I’ve been everywhere.”

“I have been everywhere,” the former Maryland congressman said.

It wasn’t an idle boast. Delaney has visited all 99 counties in Iowa, since he started his run for president almost two years ago. Delaney declared his candidacy in August 2017 — 1,194 days before the 2020 election — “shatter[ing] the mark for the earliest bid in the modern primary era by a non-fringe candidate,” according to Smart Politics.

“We need to ensure America works for hard-working Americans,” Delaney told the audience in Cedar Rapids.

He listed a series of priorities a Delaney administration would address: public education, combating climate change, immigration reform and “investing in all communities, including rural America and dealing with all the change coming from technology.’

The issue Delaney chose to single out was health care.

“But most importantly, we need a president who is committed to creating universal health care in the United States of America,” Delaney said.

It’s a topic that gave Delaney some problems the week before the June 9 event in Cedar Rapids.

Speaking at the California Democratic Party Conference on June 2, Delaney was booed when he said, “Medicare for All may sound good, but it’s actually not good policy nor is it good politics.” As the loud booing continued, Delaney wagged a finger at the audience and continued, “I’m telling you, I’m telling you, we should have universal health care, but it shouldn’t be a kind of health care that kicks 150 million Americans off their health care.”

The reference to 150 million people being kicked off their health care under Medicare for All was apparently a reference to people being moved from private insurance plans into a single-payer system.

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Delaney didn’t wag a finger in Cedar Rapids; instead, he said, “There are lots of ways of creating universal health care in this country.” Delaney encouraged listeners to read his “Better Care” plan, which calls for a restoration of the Affordable Care Act to its original state, but with the addition of a public option.

In a May interview on the PBS NewsHour, Delaney described himself as “probably the most moderate candidate in this field.” Delaney has been referring to himself as a moderate since he entered politics, when he ran for a newly redistricted congressional seat in 2012.

Delaney’s 2012 campaign was almost entirely self-financed, as is his presidential run. According to the most Federal Election Commission filings, Delaney has contributed 89 percent of the $18.2 million his campaign has raised so far. On March 28, he contributed $10 million to the campaign. (In 2018, Roll Call estimated Delaney’s personal net worth at $93 million.)

“We need to become the party of ideas,” Delaney told the party activists and elected officials gathered in Cedar Rapids. “The party that embraces debate, the party that wants to build a big tent, so that progressives who want change, moderates who want solutions, independents who just want their elected officials to put their country first and even those disaffected Republicans who look at this president, and see that he has no moral compass and have turned their back [sic] on that party–”

“If we become that party, we’re going to win every election.”


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