Former congressman John Delaney is embracing bipartisanship at a time when many candidates are treating it like a dirty word.
He’s put a particular focus on Iowa, hoping that Democrats in the state will elevate him past better-known opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and several other members of Congress.
Delaney believes that Midwesterners understand the practicality of using bipartisanship as a means to an end.
“People here are mainstream Americans,” he said during his latest visit to western Iowa, where he was viewing flood damage. “They value common sense.”
In the visit last week, he also held meet-and-greets in several counties, attended the Pottawattamie County Democrats’ central committee meeting and toured the Waubonsie Mental Health Center in Clarinda.
He’s not the only candidate trying to claim the moderate lane — Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, for example, once tried to challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the right. But Delaney is positioning himself as the “most moderate” candidate in the race.
The end goals, to him, look a lot like those of the other more rabble-rousing candidates: universal health care, addressing climate change, taking on President Donald Trump.
But his methods to those ends, along with his rhetoric, stand apart.
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While other candidates are scrambling to prove that they’re the most in favor of a single-payer system known as Medicare for All, Delaney issued a press release this month with the title “Delaney: Medicare for All Is Not the Right Approach.”
He argues that Medicare does not pay enough for health care and that hospitals would close if Medicare for All were enacted.
“I want everyone to have health care as a basic human right via a universal system, like the one I proposed, but Medicare for All is not the right approach,” he said in the statement. “It will lower quality and reduce access.”
The former CEO and U.S. representative from Maryland has made Iowa a central part of his campaign for president. He’d visited all 99 counties by last August, before most candidates even entered the race.
Former Omaha-area congressman Brad Ashford, a fellow Democrat who espoused bipartisanship, hosted a fundraiser for his former colleague at Barrett’s at the beginning of the year.
“He’s all about bipartisanship,” Ashford told the crowd. “He’s all about, from the Democratic Party perspective, enlarging the big tent.”
Said Delaney: “The time for divisions is over.”