Elizabeth Warren says Democrats shouldn’t run on ‘what we really can’t do’

"We can't ask other people to vote for a candidate we don't believe in."

Democratic presidential hopeful former US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren delivers her closing statement in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) / ALTERNATIVE CROPBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivers her closing statement in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate Tuesday night in Detroit. –Brendan Smialowski / AFP

During the beginning of the Democratic debate Tuesday night, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said that “anyone on this stage… would be a far better president” than Donald Trump, and promised to “work my heart out” for the party’s 2020 nominee.

However, during the debate, the Massachusetts senator repeatedly faced criticism from rivals that said if she or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won the primary, their ambitious, left-leaning proposals – from Medicare-for-All to tuition-free college to the Green New Deal – would put the election at risk.

“I get it,” Warren said. “There is a lot at stake, and people are scared. But we can’t choose a candidate we don’t believe in just because we’re too scared to do anything else. And we can’t ask other people to vote for a candidate we don’t believe in.”

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Still, with Democratic voters prioritizing so-called “electability” in the 2020 primary race, many of the 10 competing Democrats made the case that Warren and Sanders lean too far left to defeat Trump. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar argued her own ideas were “grounded in reality.” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock called Medicare-for-All an example of “wish list economics.” Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said, running on ideas like single-payer health care and the Green New Deal, “you might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump.”

Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, who repeatedly clashed with Sanders and Warren, warned that the two progressive standard-bearers could lead the party in the footsteps of failed Democratic nominees like George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Mike Dukakis. Delaney called for collaboration between the government and private sectors to tackle issues like universal health care, jobs, and infrastructure.

“Democrats win when we run on real solutions, not impossible promises,” he said. “When we run on things that are workable, not fairy-tale economics.”

In response, Warren questioned the rationale behind Delaney’s presidential bid.

“I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” she said, earning cheers from the audience and a smirk from Delaney.

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“Our biggest problem in Washington is corruption,” she added. “It is giant corporations that have taken our government and that are holding it by the throat. And we need to have the courage to fight back against that, and until we’re ready to do that, it’s just more of the same. Well, I’m ready to get in this fight. I’m ready to win this fight.