Biden urges caution about policies of 'way left' Democrats, Ocasio-Cortez

Rebecca Morin

WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Joe Biden sounded a note of caution Friday about progressive Democrats and their policies, saying that Democratic voters are more "center-left" and not "way left."

During an interview with CNN broadcast Friday, Biden pointed to a number of moderate Democrats who won swing districts during the 2018 midterms.

"That's what this election is about. I'm happy to debate that issue and all those issues with my friends because guess what, look who won the races. Look who won last time out," Biden said.

Throughout the Democratic presidential primary race, Biden has continued to tout his more moderate proposals as some other 2020 Democrats have announced their support for more left-leaning ideas, such as Medicare for all. Biden does not support Medicare for all. He said his plan includes keeping private insurance while allowing people to opt in to Medicare if they would like.

The former vice president also downplayed last year's electoral victory by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

"By the way, I think Ocasio-Cortez is a brilliant, bright woman, but she won a primary," Bidden said. "In the general election fights, who won? Mainstream Democrats who are very progressive on social issues and very strong on education and health care."

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Ocasio-Cortez, 29, had a stunning upset during the 2018 primaries against former Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley, who served in the House for 10 terms. The district is predominately Democratic and Ocasio-Cortez won the general election with 78% of the vote.  

Since then, Ocasio-Cortez has become the face of the new progressive lawmakers elected to the House of Representatives. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is also running for the Democratic presidential nomination, retweeted a clip of Biden's comments and said he was proud to work with Ocasio-Cortez. Sanders has endorsed the New York Democrat's Green New Deal. The two lawmakers have also introduced legislation that would impose a 15 percent interest rate cap on all consumer loans.

"I’m proud to be working with @AOC and so many other Democrats to pass Medicare for All, debt free college and a Green New Deal," he tweeted. "This is the agenda America needs — and that will energize voters to defeat Donald Trump."

Ocasio-Cortez retweeted Sanders and then added a thank to the Vermont senator: "Thank you, @SenSanders. It’s an honor to work alongside you and the millions of other people fighting for education, healthcare, and a living wage as rights."

However, during the 2018 midterms, many of the Democrats who flipped districts were more moderate. And those moderate Democrats helped the party flip key House districts from Republican hands, according to analysis from Vox.

Biden described the Democratic Party as moderate.

"Look, it's center-left, that's where I am," he said. "Where it's not is way left."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden urges caution about policies of 'way left' Democrats, Ocasio-Cortez