(CNN) — Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez on Tuesday brushed off concerns that the party is veering too far leftward during the 2020 presidential debates, saying he wasn’t worried about “bold” ideas from the candidates that may turn off voters.
The comments from Perez come hours before 20 Democratic hopefuls face-off during two debates hosted over subsequent days in Detroit by CNN and the DNC. The debates, held Tuesday and Wednesday, will feature match-ups between two of the progressive front-runners and will also give centrist candidates a chance to convince voters why their vision for the country should prevail over their more progressive opponents in the upcoming primary.
“And we just sat down with a group of Michigan voters. They are very split on whether this is the moment for pragmatism or progressives. And half of them think only a progressive can stir the base and turn out people and excite college kids to vote — like, say, Elizabeth Warren. And the other half strongly believe only somebody pragmatic, from the middle — Amy Klobuchar, Joe Biden — can do it and can beat (President Donald) Trump. So which one do you think?” CNN’s Alisyn Camerota asked Perez on “New Day.”
“I think it’s a false choice, Alisyn. Because I think that we can be bold. We’ve been — the Democratic Party’s always been bold,” Perez replied, making reference to President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act and President Franklin Roosevelt’s Social Security Act.
“And that’s what we’re about. Is making sure — I want to be a part of the accomplishments wing of the Democratic Party. I want to move the ball forward with the American people,” he added.
Perez noted that there are “differences of opinions” within the field of candidates, saying that a discussion about the candidates’ various approaches to health care policy will be a necessary part of the debates.
“Sen. Sanders, Sen. Warren, you know, they have one approach — others share that approach. And then there are others who want to build off of the Affordable Care Act. That’s a legitimate debate that we should have and voters that should decide which pathway to universal health care is the pathway they think is best for America,” he said. “And that’s fair game.”