The following transcript has been lightly edited and condensed for ease of reading.
Rich Benjamin: John, good to meet you.
John Delaney: Where’s my hug?
Benjamin: All right.
David Kirkpatrick: So, John, John, sit down. John Delaney was a congressional congressman in Richard’s State of Maryland for three terms. While he was in Congress he started the House AI caucus which is one of the reasons that made us want to have him. He has started several companies, one of which is still traded in the New York Stock Exchange called Capital Source, they’re financial services, generally, was your area. You know, he’s a real entrepreneur, he was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004. He’s somebody who is a thinker and a bipartisan thinker and we’re really happy to have you.
Delaney: It’s great to be here.
Kirkpatrick: Thank you so much for coming. I want to ask you the same question that we started with Andrew on which is how would you describe why you’re running in the context of a conference called Techonomy?
Delaney: So, my campaign is really about the future. I think the central issue we face as a nation is how deeply divided we are and how that has prevented us from doing the basic things we should have done to prepare our country and our people for a world that is changing so profoundly because of technological innovation and globalization. And so many of them are being left behind, it’s disrupting our political system, in many ways it’s disrupting the world.
So, I think this notion of shared prosperity and shared responsibility is the framing that we have to think about for our future. And we need a leader who can bring the country together, find common ground, start getting real things done, many of which we should have done a decade ago, and actually allow us to rethink our future so that these trends which are enormously positive, actually start benefitting more Americans.
Kirkpatrick: Well, it’s interesting to put it that way because these issues of the digital society which are so central to our proceedings and have been for almost a decade as we’ve been having these events, have been shockingly absent in the American political debate. It’s not even an issue of partisanship, they’ve been absent on both sides of the aisle almost completely.
So, how do you think, how do you position your candidacy in the context of the fact that most of us in this room believe that the digital society is a fundamental transformation of almost everything about modern economic life, business life, healthcare, international relations, and that has been absent from the political debate.
Delaney: Well, part of it is because we don’t focus on the future, we refight all the battles of the past. We’ve forgotten that our fundamental job as elected leaders is to leave the world better than we found it. And the only way you can actually do that is if you’re actually focused on where the world is going and confronting the opportunities and challenges.
But the other thing we have to realize is while this change is extraordinary, we have seen extraordinary change across human history. This is not the first time we’ve had a quantum leap in innovation and change. I mean, electricity fundamentally changed everything, the printing press, you go back, we have seen periods of extraordinary innovation. And we also saw examples of how society responded well to it and how they didn’t.
And so at the end of the day, my campaign is about everyone’s children, my children. You know, I have four daughters, and I just want to leave the world better than I found it. And I just don’t think we’re doing that right now. And part of the reason we’re not doing it is we’re actually not focused on what’s happening in the world and where it’s taking us and the things we have to do to update that social compact so that citizens have opportunities.
Kirkpatrick: Okay, I want to ask one more. You know, it’s a huge field. Yesterday, somebody said, “There’s 71 candidates running,” and somebody else said, “63,” I mean, it was sort of a joke but it is almost a joke now and all these other people are still talking about entering the race. So, Andrew has some pretty clear positioning, he’s the Asian guy who wants UBI, right? What’s the way we should think about your candidacy as distinct from all these others.
Delaney: So, I’m the problem solver. Listen, I grew up in a blue-collar family, my dad was a construction worker. So, I grew up in that classic, working-class family. I was the first in my family to go to college. I was a successful entrepreneur, I was the youngest CEO in the history of the New York Stock Exchange.
Kirkpatrick: Really? That’s pretty cool.
Delaney: Yes, when I was 33 years old. I created—
Kirkpatrick: You should say that more often, I think that’s a good one. Maybe say it a lot, I don’t know.
Delaney: I was waiting for you to say it in the bio, but I had to work it in. No, but, seriously, when you’re an entrepreneur, I created thousands of jobs, you have to bring people together and solve problems. And then about 10 years ago, my wife and I decided to dedicate the rest of our lives to public service because we felt like we had been very blessed. And that’s why I ran for Congress. And in Congress, I was ranked the third most bipartisan member.
So, my whole life has been about solving problems, thinking about the future, bringing people together and making progress. That’s what you do when you’re an entrepreneur. You see things that other people don’t see. You find an original path to yes, when everyone says no. I’m wired to do those kinds of things and that’s what I did in the Congress. So, I think what distinguishes me from all the other candidates, it’s not just my background, the blue-collar kid who was successful in business, became a philanthropist, and now a public servant, so, I have this range of experiences that I think are very unique. Because I understand the worker because I grew up with a dad who put on work boots every day and worked with his hands, but I also understand the private economy, I understand the entrepreneurial economy, and I’ve actually served and had to bring people together and get things done.
And so I have new ideas for our future that I believe I can get done. And that’s what this election, in many ways, is about because the problem we face as a society is we haven’t done the things we should have done. And I used to say this in business all the time, the cost of doing nothing is not nothing. We pay a huge price when we fail to respond to change. And what this election has to be, in my judgement as opposed to some basic things, like decency and morality and civility, which is missing from our political discourse, but it has to be about responsibility and actually getting things done that matter to people and making progress. The politics of progress, as I like to put it.
Kirkpatrick: Okay, Rich.
Benjamin: So, John, a bit of trivia, I went to Churchill High School which means I was a neighbor of yours in your district. But you keep talking about common ground and bipartisanship, if you were to take two issues that this audience likely cares about, being STEM, let’s take healthcare and then let’s take climate change. Walk us through what this bipartisanship looks like in the last three years, given the government shutdown, given what you’ve seen really on the ground as someone also who served in Congress.
Delaney: Yes. Well, there hasn’t been a lot which is why we haven’t responded. But I think there’s some examples. For climate, for example, I led the only bipartisan, really significant legislation in the Congress. I introduced the carbon tax, put a price on carbon. Significant. Columbia University modeled it to cut carbon emissions by 90%. But I had Republican co-sponsors. Why? Because of what I did with the money. I structured it so it was a dividend back to the American people, your basic kind of carbon tax dividend structure. And I was able to get a lot of Republicans to support that.
I believe in my first year as President, I can get that passed in the Congress. But I have a strategy and the strategy is every single Democrat and all the Republicans who live in coastal states—because maybe Joni Ernst and Grassley who were the Republican senators from Iowa where I’ve gone 26 times, they may not vote for it, but Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are going to have to vote for it because they live in Florida and a majority of Republicans in Florida believe climate change is a problem and the government should respond to it.
So, you have to be wired to think about how to get things done. So, that’s the first thing I want to do on climate change and it’ll be big and it’ll massively slow it down. It’s not going to solve the problem.
Benjamin: And what about healthcare though?
Delaney: So, healthcare, the way I would approach healthcare, is first of all, my first 100 days, I would fix the Affordable Care Act because it was a good law that has been severely damaged and there are actually some bipartisan ways of fixing it. Like, for example, Lemar Alexander and Patty Murray have a bipartisan deal and it sures it up. But that’s not the long-term fix but that’ll help Americans right away and there’s no reason not to do something right away that helps Americans.
And then I would want to put in place a form of universal healthcare where everyone gets healthcare as a right of citizenship. But I’m not strident in wanting to make it a single payer system because I think that’s fundamentally bad policy. And the reason I think it’s a bad policy is because we have ample evidence that the government never pays enough for healthcare. So, Medicaid only pays 80% of healthcare bills or costs, Medicare only pays 95% of cost, commercial insurance pays 115% of cost. So, if you take private insurance out of the healthcare system, we have ample evidence to suggest that the government doesn’t pay enough and that will result in limited access and lower quality. And all you’ve got to do is ask any rural hospital in this country, how it would have been for them last year if all their commercial insurance bills were paid at Medicare rates, they’d all say they’d close.
So, again, I’m very much a pragmatic idealist. I want to create universal healthcare as a right of every citizen. I only started my business because my wife worked at a firm that had healthcare. We were starting a young family and I wanted to start this company and I know I would have never left my job and started that business, because I consider myself very responsible, unless I knew that we had healthcare. So, I would have been shackled to my job, like so many Americans, and I wouldn’t have started these businesses which created thousands of jobs and changed my life and I think changed the lives of a lot of people. So, I get the fact that universal healthcare is not just a human right, but I think it’s actually smart economic policy.
Benjamin: Let me ask you this, so Andrew, as David said, positioned himself as universal basic income, if you had to triage the issues which distinguish you, in which you think are central to solving this country’s problems, how would you triage them?
Delaney: Well, one of the first things—
Benjamin: In light of the bipartisan thing that you’re doing.
Delaney: Yes, one of the first things I would do is double the earned income tax credit. So, to me, that’s a better prescription than universal basic income. I think most people know what the earned income tax credit is, right? It’s—I like to call it the workers’ tax credit and I want to rename it because the earned income tax credit is actually a terrible name. But what it does is it’s tax credit in the pockets of hard working Americans. And it used to be bipartisan and the reason it was bipartisan is you had to work to get it, right? So, as opposed to giving tax breaks to wealthy folks and big corporations, what the Delaney administration wants to do is double the earned income tax credit. So, you know how 50% of the country can’t afford $500 dollars, everyone talks about that, if we doubled the earned income tax credit, your average worker in this country would go from getting, say, $3,000-4,000 dollars in a tax credit from the government to call it $6,000-$8,000 dollars. That would move the needle more than any single thing we could do.
And you could pay for that system by raising the tax rate on capital gains which is the biggest tax loophole we have. We do not need an incentive in this country for people to invest, Ronald Reagan said that. Every single person with any means is going to invest every nickel they have, unless they’re scared and then they don’t invest. And so this whole difference between what people pay in ordinary income, you know, you work for a living, you pay a certain rate and what the investor class pays, that loophole has got to close and you’ve got to use that money to double the earned income tax credit. That would be a very simple solution that I think would change lives.
The other thing I’m calling for is national service, not mandatory but an incredibly exciting program for every high school graduate to either go in the military, do community service, be part of something called the Climate Corp which will be young people going around the country and helping communities build sustainable infrastructure or seniors, retrofit their homes, right? Or just general infrastructure. I think it would be transformative. I think every single American would benefit from a program where young people were serving their country, it would instill in them the notion of service, they would get skills. I think a lot of young people need a gap year before they get on with their next stage of life and I just think we’d be so proud of ourselves.
Kirkpatrick: You know what’s striking me listening to you after just listening to Andrew, I feel so much of a contrast to previous presidential campaigns. The concreteness of the ideas that you have, that he has, and that Jay Inslee wants to solve climate change, Elizabeth Warren just keeps coming out with these incredibly detailed, specific, impressive proposals. I mean, if a Democrat gets elected, they are going to have a portfolio of ideas from all of you, including you, that are really different from the way that any candidacy has—campaign. I mean, for all of what you’d say about her, she was not loaded with big, concrete policy ideas and, wow, this is a great thing.
Delaney: Nothing is more powerful than a great idea.
Kirkpatrick: But is this because of Trump? Is it because Trump is such a retrograde, non-thinker that people think, “I’ve got to think because there’s not thinking happening.” I mean, what—Rich is nodding.
Delaney: Well, there’s a lot to what you just said there.
There’s a lot of responses that human beings have to the President, ranging from feeling the need to run to the bathroom, to actually come up with new ideas. So, I’ll leave it at that. But, you know, even on climate, like, one of the things I’m going to call for next week, so I’ll kind of preview it here.
Kirkpatrick: Oh, good.
Delaney: And it’s very much an innovation focused idea, is I’m going to call for the United States of America to do two things. One, to build a carbon pipeline in the center of the country. So, not a fossil fuel pipeline, but a pipeline to transfer carbon. And then I’m going to call for the U.S. government to take the $5 billion dollars a year that we give in tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry, because that’s what we do, our tax dollars, $5 billion a year to them, specific tax breaks, and I want to take that money which is $50 billion over 10 years and use it to create a market for negative emissions technologies. Which are machines that actually suck carbon out of the atmosphere.
Kirkpatrick: Which there are a lot of good ideas for it.
Delaney: And they exist. The National Academy of Science has just reviewed them and that, as you know, is the premier scientific review board. And they said they work but they’re too expensive and they’re subscale. That’s the same thing we would have said about wind and solar 30 years ago. “Yeah, they work but they’re too expensive and subscale.” What did we do? We created a market for them and then the great innovators of the world solved the problem and brought down the price. Like, if I was back as an entrepreneur and not dedicating the rest of my life to public service, that’s what I would do. Because we cannot get to net zero as a planet unless we extract 20–30% of the carbon out of the atmosphere. And I believe the United States of America can solve this problem. And if we do it, we’ll save the world.
And if you actually want to create this industry, you’ve got to create a market for it so that people innovate and if we actually create the machines that capture the carbon, they’re going to need to transport it to places that it can be used productively and that’s why I want to build a CO2 pipeline and unleash this industry. But that’s a big, new idea, by the way, that can get bipartisan support.
Kirkpatrick: It probably could.
Delaney: It probably can because it’s about innovation.
Kirkpatrick: Well, it’s so good that you’re focusing on climate change, too. I mean, really.
Benjamin: Really critical. But at the same time, let’s, for argument’s sake, let’s buy this assumption that people don’t necessarily vote according to policy, they vote their values.
Benjamin: Got it. And we have now these cultural decoys issues of issues becoming a proxy for something. Immigration might become a proxy for race or someone asks you, a perfect example, “What’s your favorite passage in the bible?” Like, how do you respond to these deeply valanced issues that do not have to do with the specific policy proposals that you’re talking about?
Delaney: Well, first of all, I believe strongly in the separation of church and state.
Benjamin: Yes, that’s a policy, I’m talking about values.
Delaney: No, but now that is a value actually in a way, right? So, I’m an active Catholic, my wife and I chaired Catholic charities, our faith is important to us, and I believe my faith informs my social justice values. But it shouldn’t dictate public policy in this country. As a—listen, we have to be, as a party, we have to be on the right side of these issues, in my opinion. And we have to understand that there’s cultural wars in this country. My national press secretary, Michael Hopkins and I were, as we were waiting in the green room, we were looking at Barry Goldwater quotes about what he said about gay rights and the effect that the religious right would have on the Republican party. And it was amazingly prophetic in many ways.
So, we have to be on the right side of these issues. We have to speak to people’s values. But we also have to do things to lift them up. Because we live in a country right now where so many people have been left behind, right? You go, you travel around rural Iowa and you look at these towns that have just shrunk. They’ve been drained of people, they’ve been drained of talent and opportunity. And you realize why there’s so much despair, there’s so much loneliness in our—you know, we’re so interconnected but there’s so much loneliness.
My wife helped start an organization called Common Sense Media which deals with media and literacy in kids.
Kirkpatrick: That’s a good organization.
Delaney: It’s a great organization. She’s the Washington director of it. And she’s spent her whole career around these issues and the effect that this connected world has had on people, both positively and negatively. And our failure as a society to protect our citizens, you know, with—one of the legislations I passed in Congress is this camera legislation that gets at the addictive nature of devices on kids. I mean, you go to high schools and you hear about anxiety and what’s happening and the fact that we have no protections of our citizens, no regulations at all. I can put my political ads on television and I have to say that I paid for them. I can put the same ads on social media, I don’t have to do anything. We’ve allowed this information campaign. So, all of this contributes to fueling this cultural—the cultural war, we have despair, loneliness, economic anxiety, and the fact that we haven’t protected our citizens from their ability to be manipulated by these things.
Benjamin: I’ve spent a lot of time in these towns that you’re talking about and there are a lot of good-minded people who have concerns about these issues. So, as David mentioned, I’m just coming back from a gun show in central Florida, that’s a quarter that was critical to DeSantis’s victory and Trump’s victory and guess what, they’re not talking about the Mueller report as people are in Washington and New York. So, two-part question, first, do you think Trump should be impeached and what do you think about the value of democracy and the rule of law and how will that play in your campaign?
Delaney: Well, I mean, as the President of the United States, you swear to uphold the constitution, so the rule of law is central, as is the separation of powers, right? Which I think, you know, Trump is effectively undermining and it should make every single citizen in this country concerned, particularly conservatives. Particularly conservatives, who in many ways fought most of their career for the protections of our freedom and liberty embodied in the separation of powers. The separation of powers is the thing that kind of clogs the gears in many ways but it fundamentally keeps us safe with our freedom and liberty and he is trampling on it.
So I think Speaker Pelosi is right, the House has to do it and, listen, I served in the House, the House has to finish its investigative work. Where that leads us, you know, she always quotes Lincoln, “You always need public sentiment on your side.” And impeachment is fundamentally a political process, it’s a way for the Congress to remove a President that a significant majority of the country wants removed. So, I believe Speaker Pelosi is going to insist that the House do its investigative work, create the kind of transparency that the American people deserve and where that takes them, I don’t think any of us know at this point.
Kirkpatrick: Okay, let’s go to the audience. I want to—there’s so many great things on the table here. Can we get the lights up? Who has got a comment, a question? Oh, come on. Okay, here we go. And there’s one over there too. Yes, okay, we’ll get to you next.
Berkowitz: David Berkowitz, Serial Marketer. So, we’re hearing so many great things about America and Americans today and I love it but also you meet people out there who are really just racist, who very publicly uphold—I mean, you talk about the new YouTube star, that young girl who is just spewing horrible things and I don’t blame her but people who are influencing her. And there’s just a lot of terrible stuff out there and seemingly terrible people out there. How much do you think it’s important to try to win them over or just try to find enough of those who are sick of that?
Kirkpatrick: Are they just a basket of deplorables?
Delaney: So, listen, I think a President should always be appealing to the better angels of human beings, right? People can change, right, they could have their own road to Damascus, right? And I just think you always have to be appealing to the better angels of people. What I actually really care about is winning. And I understand to win, you don’t have to get everyone. Because I want to make progress for this country and I want to become the President of the United States, I want to have a Congress that supports my initiatives, and I want to get things done.
Does that mean everyone is going to support me? Of course not. But am I always going to try to appeal to the better angels of those people, show them there’s a better way, be the kind of role model? I mean, in many ways, we have not had responsible leaders in this country for a long time.
We have right now a President, who in my judgement, does not have a moral compass. So, it’s very hard to expect our citizens to show their better sides, to show their moral compass, to be responsible when our leaders haven’t done that. I believe the tone at the top really matters. That’s what I always believed when I ran my companies, that’s what I always believed as someone who has the privilege of serving, and that everything I do and all the words I say, set the tone. And the kind of tone I want to set for the presidency is that we need to be united, we need to have a sense of common purpose. That doesn’t mean we agree with each other on everything, we don’t want to live in a country where we agree with each other on everything. But we deserve to live in a country where the things that we don’t agree with each other on are debated with honor, with the truth, with civility, and with respect.
But then we also deserve to live in a country that our leaders roll up their sleeves once in awhile and get things done. I want to be the kind of President whose voice, and in many cases, his physical presence is involved in standing up to hate wherever you see it. Wherever you see it, I think a President has to stand up for it, against it, either physically by showing up and being there, because in some of these situations you can’t fake showing up, you actually have to go to it, or by their voice.
So, I think that’s how I will lead. Will I get everyone on my side? No. But do I think a significant majority of the American people are behind that kind of message and want positive, optimistic progress, yes.
Kirkpatrick: Okay, over here. Thank you, Kaitlyn.
Joshyam: Hi, my name Bushen Joshyam with Ericsson. And so I just became a nationalized U.S. citizen last week.
Joshyam: And it was a really good experience and I wanted to say that, the right to vote—so I’m looking forward to casting my first ballot as a U.S. citizen and it’s something that we should really cherish and exercise. But my question is this, so, we have a long season now coming of debates and primaries and there’s going to be a forum. So, my question is this, how do you plan to engage with the other campaigns in a way that you have a dialogue so that whoever emerges as the nominee isn’t essentially tagged and just maligned to the point where, you know, they’ve got like 100 nicknames.
Benjamin: That’s a good question.
Delaney: Yes, it is good. Listen, I’m a positive person by nature and, to me, my campaign is about new ideas and about how I’m going to make them happen and the kind of leader I want to be. So, and maybe it’s the entrepreneur in me, I’m just focused on the disproportionate difference I can try to make. And so the way I want to win is not by tearing other human beings down, let alone these terrific candidates I’m running against, but by showing that I have a better way forward and that I can be the leader that the American people need. Because I think the next election is really a leadership question, about the type of person we want to lead our country, what their moral compass is, do they have decency, do they have new ideas, and can they answer the central question facing this country, which is how terribly divided we are.
And so that’s what my campaign is about and I’m never going to tear other people down.
Kirkpatrick: Okay, we’re going to go over here but, Mary, if you have a question, I want to hear it. You don’t? Think of one.
Saitto: Hi, I’m Serena Saitto, I’m a freelance reporter but I’m not writing about this. But, so, social/economic inequality in this country is a big issue and I guess part of the problem of how we got where we are now politically. Salary stagnation is part of the problem. I was wondering if you have given any thought to this data and if you think there’s any policy that can change this, that it’s not—although that it’s already something, elevating the minimum wage.
Kirkpatrick: Thank you.
Delaney: So, yes, I mean, I think this is the issue of our time, which is how to confront this. I mean, we all kind of know why it’s happened, so the question is what are we going to do about it? So, one of the reasons I want to double the earned income tax credit is because I think it’s the most immediate thing you can do to make a difference in people. You know, Ronald Reagan actually had a good line when he said, “There are no easy answers but there are simple ones.” A simple way to make a difference against that issue is to double the earned income tax credit, that’s the first thing.
Secondly, it’s also a public education issue. Unless we support and strengthen and improve the public education system in this country, we won’t be able to address that issue across the long-term. Last year, the U.S. military said 71% of high school graduates were not eligible for the military because of academic, health, or social deficiencies. So, clearly, we’re not having young people start their productive working lives with the right background that they need which is why things like universal pre-k, early childhood education, and giving kids something after high school, either community college or career and technical training, is part of public education. It’s so central to actually dealing with this issue across the long-term.
The other thing we have to get at is the concentration of opportunity. Because I think in many ways, this country is no longer a nation of opportunity but, in many ways, one of birthright, where you have to be born in the right place, to the right family, and go to the right schools. And then the opportunities are unlimited. You know, last year in our country, 80% of the venture capital, which is represented by people in this room, was invested in 50 counties in this country, out of 3,100 counties. Yet, 80% of our kids live in a county where the jobs that are getting created are not as good as the jobs that used to exist.
So we need policies, affirmative policies, that actually spread that out. Because ultimately, that results in a destabilization of our political system. Every American should care about that. And so things like having a certain percentage of government contractors located in communities that are left behind. Doing what I’m talking about, which is ensuring that this next wave of innovation in carbon capture and things like that, is located in places in this country that have been left behind. Making sure communities, whether they’re urban or rural, have the type of healthcare systems they need, public education systems they need, etcetera, is critical of that.
So, I think you have to have a short-term and a long-term strategy. The short-term strategy is to lift people up with things like the earned income tax credit. The long-term strategy is to create a universal healthcare system, improve public education, and put in place policies that ensure that investments occur all over this country, not just in five or six cities. That’s how I would address that issue.
Kirkpatrick: Okay, we’ve got time for maybe two more. Let’s see, okay, [INDISCERNIBLE], and then back there.
Delaney: I’ll be faster with my answers, sorry.
Kosupswell: Avi Kosupswell, one comment, one question. On your climate change bill, actually, don’t give up on Iowa. I actually had lunch with a congressman representing an upstate, rural district and he said farmers actually really care about climate change.
Kosupswell: So, and then my question was with Andrew Yang we talked about Trump’s slogan of MAGA and his slogan, his MATH, Make America Think Again. What’s your slogan?
Delaney: So, I kind of have two, Focus On the Future, because I think that’s what’s really important. But, really, in many ways what is central to my campaign is this notion of shared prosperity, shared responsibility. We’re all in this together. And we have to create a society where everyone has opportunity and the blessings that have been produced by all this change in the world are actually shared among our citizens. So, it’s balancing out the private sector, innovation, capitalism, and growth, which is why—I’m wired that way and I know it works with effectively updating the social compacts so that everyone has a shot and they’re taken care of as the change unfolds.
Kirkpatrick: Okay, over here.
Stearns: Hi, Ashley Stearns from the British Consulate speaking on behalf of myself, not the government. But, so, it’s already been stated before that there’s a ridiculous number of candidates seemingly running. But one of the good things that has come out of this number of people is how diverse the candidates are. So, how—what’s your plan to appeal to people that might want a more diverse candidate but agree with your bipartisan policies?
Delaney: That’s a great question. And, look, I think it is a blessing all this diversity. I mean, just like in the midterms last cycle in 2018, we had an extraordinarily diverse field. We had younger candidates, we had more experienced candidates, we had women, we had men, we had white people, people of color, we had straight, we had gay, we had socialists and moderates. We had everyone. And it was reflective of the country and I thought it was great.
But I think at the end of the day, the party is going to elect the best leader. I think their first criteria is who can beat Trump and 2018 is the roadmap for that because all the seats we flipped were flipped with moderates. I believe this election is going to be fought in the center. The President is going to turn out his voters. Democrats are going to turn out, just like we did in the midterms in huge numbers, record turnout in all those districts no matter who we put up. And it’s going to be fought in the center, it’s going to be fought based on the person who has the best vision to bring the country together to start solving problems. And I think the Democratic primary voters are going to realize that and they’re going to make the choice about who is the great, best leader.
I actually think it’s great that we have a big field. Because we need a battle of ideas. We need some new ideas. And this is the best way to actually bring them forth, it seems to me.
Kirkpatrick: Do you have any closing thoughts?
Benjamin: Well, the benefit of this diversity isn’t cosmetic. And I have no candidate who I favor. But there is a sense that when you have—for people who support Elizabeth Warren, there’s a sense that she will go to the mat for me. For people who are supporting X, Y, Z candidate, Trump even, he will go to the mat for me. So, this idea of seeing yourself in a candidate, it’s not a question of being cosmetic diversity, it’s in a partisan way sometimes, will this person go to the mat for me. And, so, I think that is what’s drawing a lot of people to the Democratic field who aren’t running for vanity.
Delaney: And the other thing that’s going to be a blessing that comes out of this is it’s going to be very clear to everyone who is running and to the person who ultimately gets the nomination, that we have to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Because there’s a lot of different perspectives in the Democratic primary and whoever has the privilege of getting the nomination has to commit to go to the mat for all of those folks and make sure their voices are heard in that administration.
Kirkpatrick: Well, I’ve got to say, after two extremely impressive people on stage, I feel a little bit better about my country. I really do. And I also have to just make a quick note, how many times have people told you that your profile looks a lot like Joe Biden?
Look, look, go to the—just give the profile. You see what I’m saying?
Benjamin: A little levity.
Kirkpatrick: A younger one, of course.
Delaney: I’m 56.
Kirkpatrick: Do you have any closing thoughts you want to make?
Delaney: No, first of all, just thank you for having me. And, you know, I really think the answer to all of our problems in many ways is to recommit to the basic model and norms of this country. You know, in 1958, John F. Kennedy gave a great speech where he said, “We shouldn’t seek the Republican answer, we shouldn’t seek the Democratic answer, we should seek the right answer. We shouldn’t seek to refight the battles of the past, we should own our responsibility as Americans for our future.” And he gave this speech right after Sputnik was launched, when the American people were terrified, they thought they had lost their future. But great leaders like John Kennedy and others stepped forward and said, “No, our future is ours to build together.” This is a magnificent country, we have every possible advantage any nation could possibly want to have in 2019. We just need responsible leaders to lead us in the future.
Kirkpatrick: Well, thank you so much for coming.
Delaney: Thank you very much.
Benjamin: Good to see you.