I spent some time with a couple of Democratic presidential candidates today - got two in one classroom (and I could have spent time with a third one had I wanted) - so it was one of those win-win things.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard chatted with George Stephanopoulus on This Week. Let's take a look, with Hickenlooper up first.
The governor and former veep Joe Biden are sort of in the same lane, George suggested: both are about bringing folks together, ratcheting things down, working across the aisle, and so on -- so why Hickenlooper? He said he was running
...because Donald Trump has been fueling this national crisis of division and it's taking our country backwards. And the answer is not socialism. In Colorado, we were able to bring business and nonprofits together, Democrats and Republicans, to get you almost universal healthcare coverage, to become the number one economy in America, and to beat the NRA with tough gun laws.
I've been an entrepreneur and a governor. And most of my adult life I've been able to bring adult people together again and again and get tough, progressive things done that people said we couldn't do. And I think it's time to replace the nonsense in Washington with some common sense.George pressed him on the 'not socialism' comment, noting it appeared to be a Bernie slam; he also wondered if Hickenlooper was "confident" that consensus-building was what Dems were looking for.
...I spend my whole life, as I said, bringing people together and getting big, progressive things done... I think the real challenge here is how do we get that nonsense that's taking over Washington and replace it with common sense.They moved to foreign policy; apparently there's going to be a speech this week, parts of which had been released. George wondered what the part noting might be "looking to withdraw from our global leadership role" due to past "foreign policy mistakes" was all about. Hickenlooper started talking about Trump and his "isolationist and reckless foreign policy" but George wondered who the Dems were that were mentioned in the video.
Well, I don't want to name names, but they're - but they have withdrawn from - you know, they would have the United States withdraw from global engagement and that makes us less safe...George was not satisfied, asking if any of the 22 other Democrats in the race "call for the retreat" Hickenlooper mentioned.
Almost all the other Democrats - not all, but many of the other Democrats feel that we should back away from fair and open trade. And I believe that, only through, you know, constant engagement and building up that trade are we going to get full security. And I think as we revive US leadership, we're able to not only make our country safer, but as I said we're going to be able to be more prosperous at the same time.Next, what does he think qualifies him to be commander in chief, given he has no military service or years of experience governing at the federal level.He mentioned a cyber security center in Colorado Springs, deploying the National Guard, and working with military leaders on NORAD. And,
I've, you know, gone out on over a dozen economic development trips, built relationships with leaders around the world. In places like Israel we've had a partnership that addressed terrorism, water conservation, cyber security. I mean, there's a long portfolio there of places where I've been engaged in active foreign affairs.Noting that Hickenlooper is, at best, polling at 2% (some polls it's only 1%), George wondered if he wouldn't have to start hitting harder at his opponents.
I think little by little, but again, the focus - I'm running because this country is in a national crisis of division and I -- look, my whole life I've been able to bring people together and get stuff done. I'm the one candidate when you look at the long record of what they've gotten done I can bring -- I really believe I can bring some common sense where right not in Washington you see nothing but nonsense.Final question: how about running for Senate, instead, like Chuck Schumer has suggested - any chance?
Well, I think I'd be a difficult candidate as a Senator.And then he repeated, again, his bringing people together and trying to bring common sense to Washington.
Next up - Gabbard. George wondered if she was one of those Dems Hickenlooper mentioned. After explaining her record as an enlistee in the Army National Guard after 9/11, two deployments in the Middle East, and her service in Congress on the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committee, she said
(I) bring that experience to the forefront where as president I will end these counterproductive and wasteful regime change wars, work to end this new Cold War and nuclear arms race, recognizing how wasteful and costly they are.
And take the trillions of dollars that we've been spending, would continue to spend and invest those resources on serving the needs of the American people, things like healthcare, education, rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, protecting our environment. There are many urgent needs here that we need to address and we've got to get our priorities straight.Noting that Gabbard resigned a DNC position because of Hillary Clinton's "hawkish interventionist foreign policy" and wondered if that applied to Joe Biden.
...The problem I have seen is that across both Democrat and Republican administrations, and especially in this Trump administration where, right now, he is leading us down this dangerous path towards a war with Iran...George clarified that Trump says he doesn't want a war with Iran, but Gabbard said John Bolton and Mike Pompeo tell a different story.
...I think what we're seeing, unfortunately, is what looks like a lot of people in the Trump administration trying to create a pretext or excuse for us to go to war against Iran, a war that would actually undermine our national security, cost us countless American lives, cost civilian lives across the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis in Europe and it would actually make us less safe by strengthening terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda.George hit her on previous comments she's made - that we have to "end the new Cold War," that she's softer than some of the other Dems on Putin and Russia, that she's met with Assad, opposed the arrest of Assange, and has "suggested that Russian election meddling is no worse than America's historically." And he asked if she thought Putin was a national security threat. She said her focus is on keeping us safe.
And what I've pointed out consistently, time and time again, is that our continued wasteful regime change wars have been counterproductive to the interests of the American people and the approach that this administration has taken in essentially choosing conflict rather than seeing how we can cooperate and work out our differences with other countries in the world has been counterproductive to our national security.George wondered if Dems are taking "too hard a line" on Russia.
I think that the escalation of tensions that we've seen between the US and nuclear-armed countries like Russia and China, and you're right, it has come from this administration, it's also come from some Democrats and Republicans in Congress. It has brought us to this very dangerous point where nuclear strategists point out that we are at a greater risk of nuclear war now than ever before in history and we've got to understand what the consequences of that are.She mentioned the fake missile warning in her state, telling folks to seek shelter immediately, and how terrifying it was - and that it pointed to the "very real threat we face" if we continue down the Cold War path.
And this is what I seek to change; to build relationships that are build on cooperation rather than conflict, de-escalate these tensions, work out the differences that we have, the problems that we have with other countries... We've got to be able to work with countries like Russia and China to be able to accomplish that objective to keep the American people safe.And that's where they left it.
Have fun digesting these two interviews. See you around campus.