You’ve heard a lot of big ideas tonight.
But this election shouldn’t be about who can run furthest to the left. It should be about who can run furthest away from any firm commitments just in case they upset any upper-middle-class suburban white voters who I’ve decided are the only people who could swing this election.
Listen, I’m as progressive as anyone else on this stage. I just think that we don’t have to implement progressive policies to make progress.
Our number one priority should be defeating Donald Trump. And we’re not going to do it by making crazy, untenable promises we’ll never be able to keep. Instead, we should be pragmatic, which is why my plan is to do absolutely nothing different and assume things will change as a result.
Medicare for All might sound like a great idea in theory. I’ll even concede that it’s a great idea in practice. But you can’t just go and kick tens of millions of Americans off of their health insurance simply because you’re replacing it with something that’s objectively way better. That’s like if Apple wanted to give you a brand-new iPhone Xs free of charge, but it meant you had to give up a 2004 Nokia flip phone you currently pay $175 a month for. Why not let people choose between cutting edge technology and the thrill of playing Snake on a 1.5-inch screen?
If there’s one thing I know about this country, it’s that people love their existing health insurance coverage. That’s the hill I have chosen to die on. By the way, I’m dying on a hill in the first place in an effort to relate to people who exist under our current healthcare system. For now.
And let’s not forget about the unions. Over the course of so many decades, unions have fought tooth and nail to get employer-sponsored health insurance. So what, now these American workers are gonna elect some socialist, and all they’ll have to show for it is the freedom to stop relying on a tenuous job that could disappear at any second for their children’s health coverage? That’s not the America I know. And something reminding me of the America I know makes it good.
We are facing an existential crisis in climate change. And we need to boldly respond to that crisis with the sort of approach that I take when facing any crisis: tax subsidies and rebates and closing loopholes. Why put out a fire with water when you can form a commission to incentivize small businesses to engage in water-adjacent practices?
I also have some thoughts about reparations, but I’m going to keep quiet about that until after the South Carolina primary.
I’ve heard from a lot of voters over the last few months. From the blue-collar pharmaceutical executives who fund my campaign, to the scrappy Wall Street investors who fund my campaign, to the aspirational oil tycoons who fund my campaign. And they all say the same thing — which I will not disclose because those conversations are confidential, and you will never truly know what I assure my most influential donors behind closed doors.
But here’s what I told them I would tell you: We cannot defeat Donald Trump if we alienate the people who are almost certainly going to vote for Donald Trump.
The last thing we want is a repeat of 2016, when Hillary Clinton lost. In deciding to run for president, I have spent hours lying awake, racking my brain to determine why that happened. And I’ve come up with an answer. It wasn’t because of Hillary Clinton’s moderate policies, or a message relying upon preserving the status quo — that all works great for me. It’s because Hillary Clinton wasn’t me personally. Meanwhile, I am me personally. So you can see that there’s a fundamental difference at play.
Some of my opponents believe that the way to win is to appeal to our better angels. But I know just as well as anyone that – as has always been the case — this election will be won by stoking fear in our worst cowards.
Nominate me, and you’ll be sending a candidate to the debate stage who will look Donald Trump straight in the eye and say, without hesitation: “the American people demand a president who is superficially a marginal change from the current president."
Unlike some of the other people on this stage, I know I can keep my promises. Because I’ve promised nothing. And I have a proven record of doing that for my entire career.