Four Democratic presidential candidates complained that Republican or right-wing “talking points” were being employed against them over the past two nights of debates.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), and former Obama housing secretary Julián Castro all used the phrase in response to pointed questions about liberal positions.
Former Rep. John Delaney (D., Md.) noted Tuesday that single-payer health care would eliminate private health insurance plans, wondering, “Why do we got [sic] to be the party of taking something away from people?”
“We are the Democrats,” Warren said. “We are not about trying to take away health care from anyone. That’s what the Republicans are trying to do. And we should stop using Republican talking points in order to talk with each other about how to best provide that health care.”
Sanders accused CNN moderator Jake Tapper of using a “Republican talking point” in a later question about health care. When former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D.) criticized aspects of the Green New Deal as being a distraction from battling climate change, Warren trotted out the line again.
“Look, I put a real policy on the table to create 1.2 million new jobs in green manufacturing,” she said. “There’s going to be a $23 trillion worldwide market for this. This could revitalize huge cities across this country. And no one wants to talk about it. What you want to do instead is find the Republican talking point of a made-up piece of some other part and say, ‘Oh, we don’t really have to do anything.'”
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That “talking point” carried over into Wednesday night, when Harris declared Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) to be a GOP mouthpiece when he said she was being disingenuous about her health care proposal eliminating employer-sponsored insurance.
“We cannot keep with the Republican talking points on this,” she said. “You got to stop … Under my Medicare for All plan, yes, employers are not going to be able to dictate the kind of healthcare that their employees get. They will be able to make that decision.”
A supporter of decriminalizing illegal border crossings, Castro declared the notion of Democrats being for “open borders” to be a “right-wing talking point.” This was after CNN moderator Don Lemon read out a quote from former Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson making that observation.
“You know, if you elect me president, you’re not electing me to follow. You’re electing me to lead,” Castro said. “And open borders is a right-wing talking point, and frankly I’m disappointed that some folks, including some folks on this stage, have taken the bait.”
Castro didn’t back off the criticism afterward, telling CNN that he was disappointed Johnson would adopt a “right-wing talking point.”
The Democratic remarks caught the attention of commentators, some of whom viewed it as a deflection away from responding to legitimate criticism of their policies.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper was accused by Warren of using GOP talking points when pointing out Medicare for All would rip away private health insurance. He said it was a “factual thing,” regardless of Democratic complains.
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican and now a staunch foe of the Trump White House, raged against liberal Democrats for their invective against Obama-era policies.
“Give me a break!” Scarborough yelled on Thursday. “What is wrong with you people? You’re going up against Donald Trump and you are talking about defending Obamacare as Republican talking points? Who is advising you?”
Bennet, Joe Biden, and Marianne Williamson all countered during their debates that criticisms of far-left policies shouldn’t be dismissed thusly.
“I do have concerns about what Republicans will say, and that’s not just a Republican talking point,” Williamson said. “I do have concern that it will be difficult.”
David Rutz is managing editor of the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a sports reporter for two years in Atlanta and has done freelance sports reporting for the Washington Post. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and lives in Marietta, Ga. His Twitter handle is @DavidRutz.