2020 candidate John Hickenlooper says in Iowa he will unite the country

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper pitched his chief executive experience bringing unlikely stakeholders to work together in his Iowa stops.


Nick Rohlman

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks during a campaign stop at the 392 Caffé in Clinton, Iowa on Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Sarah Watson, Politics Editor

CLINTON — Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper drew on his previous executive experience and pledged to bring bipartisan cooperation to the presidency in his first trip to Iowa since announcing his presidential campaign.

“I know I can beat Donald Trump, and I know that’s absolutely essential, but it’s insufficient,” Hickenlooper told a group of about 30 in a coffee shop in Clinton, about half of which were credentialed members of the media. “I know I can beat Donald Trump, but I also know I’m the person who can bring this country together after the election and get things done.”

Hickenlooper was elected as Colorado governor in 2010 and served until January, after serving seven years as the mayor of Denver. Before that, Hickenlooper owned several breweries and restaurants in Colorado. Throughout his visit, Hickenlooper emphasized his experience building a team and bringing together unlikely partnerships.

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When asked a question about Medicare for all and the Green New Deal, Hickenlooper stopped short of endorsing the proposals, which have become mainstays of other Democratic presidential candidates’ platforms such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

He said he supports universal health-care coverage, noting he wrote an editorial in the 1970s arguing that health care should a right not a privilege.

“If we take the pledge to get universal coverage, we can find the best way to do it at the highest quality and the lowest cost we could get there,” Hickenlooper said. “It might well be Medicare for All … but without knowing the details, if you ask most people if they’re willing to give up the health-care coverage they have, they are not happy about it.”

Nick Rohlman
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper answers questions from the media during a campaign stop at the 392 Caffé in Clinton, Iowa on Saturday, March 9, 2019.

Of the Green New Deal, Hickenlooper said he supports the sentiment and urgency of the proposal, but said there could be other more cost-effective ways to address it.

“The Green New Deal, I think there are ways we can address climate change rapidly and cost effectively in such a way that this doesn’t have to be a pitched battle of us versus them,” Hickenlooper said.

RELATED: Iowa Caucuses Candidate Tracker

He referenced efforts he spearheaded as governor to hold negotiations between the oil industry and the environmental coalition, as well as a proposal to put electric charging stations for electric cars along the highways in Colorado and neighboring states.

“We’ve got to get to clean energy as quickly as possible,” Hickenlooper said.

After announcing his campaign March 4, Hickenlooper stopped in Des Moines Friday and stopped by Dubuque and Cedar Rapids in addition to his stop in Clinton, Iowa.

Hickenlooper is the second governor to enter the 2020 Democratic field, which now holds at least 14 candidates for the nomination. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week he would run on a platform centered around combatting climate change.

Heather Beach, a DeWitt resident, said she hadn’t decided who she would caucus for yet, but that she would keep Hickenlooper in mind.

Nick Rohlman
Stephen and Sharon McCue of Davenport sit at a table during former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s campaign stop at the 392 Caffé in Clinton, Iowa on March 9. The McCues plan on attending stops for a variety of candidates and are still undecided on who to caucus for.

“Given that there are so many great candidates out there that support the issues that are deep in my heart, I think that electability is going to be huge because beating Trump is so important,” Beach said.

Clinton native Matthew Current, who attends the University of Pennsylvania, said he would likely absentee caucus in Iowa if possible. He said he liked Hickenlooper’s more moderate stances on issues, but said the governor didn’t talk about specific ideas.

“He focused on his ability to get things done,” he said. “Though, he did talk about how, ‘Oh, I can get things done,’ more I think than he talked about how to do that.”