Election 2020 John Hickenlooper

Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper, center, buys Maytag Blue Cheese from a vendor at the downtown farmer's market on June 8 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking rhetorical aim at Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders on Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

This could prove a growing departure from the way candidate Hickenlooper was in Colorado, vowing never to run attack ads and only sparingly speaking ill of his opponents.

He will again call President Trump the worst commander-in-chief in U.S. history, according to his prepared remarks.

He is expected to voice his unsupportive view of Sanders' democratic socialism, Hickenlooper's campaign said Wednesday evening.

"The reality is that socialism increases tax burdens on working families while often failing to solve the problems it claims to address," Hickenlooper will say, according to advance excerpts of the speech.

Hickenlooper also will address successful private-public partnerships that he employed in Colorado, and expanded access to reproductive healthcare to cut in half the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions among young women.

Other excerpts from his prepared speech:

“I have great respect for Sen. Sanders. He’s provided great clarity and urgency around the major issues facing working families. But I fundamentally disagree that we should do away with the democratic, regulated capitalism that has guided this country for over 200 years. This position is shared by many of my Democratic colleagues, but for some reason, our party has been hesitant to express their opposition to democratic socialism. In fact, the Democratic presidential field has not only failed to oppose Sen. Sanders’ agenda, they’ve actually rushed to embrace it. The majority of the Democratic presidential candidates support at least one of Sanders’ various proposals. Even the self-declared pragmatists hesitate to directly criticize Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

"While it’s true that no one of these policies would completely remake our economy on [its] own, Sanders said clearly on Wednesday that the goal of his complete agenda is to make the United States of America a democratic socialist country. The urgency now is even greater than before. Democrats must say loudly and clearly that we are not socialists. If we do not, we will end up reelecting the worst president in our country’s history. ...

“While Sanders has attacked those in the center for preaching incrementalism, the reality is that pragmatists don’t say 'no' to big ideas, they figure out how to actually get them done. While government plays a vital role in tackling big challenges, it has rarely been successful alone. It is when government has teamed up with the private sector and nonprofits that we have seen our greatest successes — from the polio vaccine to the space race. I used that collaborative approach in Colorado, and, today, our state has near-universal health care. We’ve had the number one economy in the country for three consecutive years. All of Colorado’s 64 counties have access to reliable broadband service. ...

“I understand that Americans are frustrated right now — that they are hungry for bold change. I understand that our young people, especially, see socialism as an attractive alternative to the political gridlock and economic recession they experienced during their formative years. But it would be a grave mistake to abandon the American entrepreneurial spirit that has always been at our country’s core.

"The reality is that socialism increases tax burdens on working families while often failing to solve the problems it claims to address. Medicare for All does not take on a fee for service, the major driver of healthcare costs. The Green New Deal guarantees every American a federal job – virtually guaranteeing it will never make it through Congress. Free college proposals massively raise taxes while doing nothing to address economic opportunity for the two-thirds of Americans who will never graduate with a four-year degree. ...

“American capitalism must be reformed, but we will not solve our problems by endlessly expanding government and demonizing the private sector. If we want to tackle America’s greatest challenges, we need to find a way to work together. We won’t achieve universal coverage by forcibly removing private insurance from over a hundred million Americans. We won’t tackle climate change by guaranteeing every American a government job.”

The speech is scheduled for 10:45 Eastern time, which is 8:45 a.m. in Denver.

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