Sherrod Brown defends decision not to endorse Green New Deal

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, smiles as he speaks with guests prior to an economic roundtable discussion at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H., Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. Sen. Brown is weighing a run for in 2020 presidential race. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Sherrod Brown, a potential 2020 Democratic presidential contender, shrugged off arguments from liberals on Tuesday that signing onto the climate change plan known as the Green New Deal is essential to winning over the party's base.

"I don't need to co-sponsor every bill that others think they need to co-sponsor to show my progressive politics," the Ohio Democrat told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "I want to get something done for people now."

Of the declared and potential Democratic presidential candidates in the Senate, Brown is the only one who hasn't signed onto the Green New Deal, which was released last week.

Brown's decision to keep his name off of the Green New Deal and single-payer health care, two popular litmus tests for those who want the Democratic Party to embrace sweeping progressive ideas in 2020, gives him a unique lane in the presidential primary should he decide to formally join the campaign.

He told reporters Tuesday that he supports "aggressively addressing climate change," though he has yet to settle on the specifics of his own agenda. He also said he views expanding Medicare to Americans age 50 and older as a more workable step than moving directly to single-payer health care.

A half-dozen of Brown's potential rivals for the Democratic nomination have signed onto the Green New Deal, the so-called "Medicare for All" single-payer plan, or both.

President Donald Trump seized on the sweeping climate proposal Monday night during a rally in El Paso, Texas, seeking to portray Democrats as too extreme in their calls for drastically cutting U.S. carbon emissions to fight global warming.

Democrats themselves are debating how ambitious they should be in their policy proposals. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts spoke of the need for "big, structural change" when she launched her presidential campaign over the weekend. But in a recent interview with The Associated Press, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another possible Democratic presidential candidate, questioned the feasibility of proposals such as the Green New Deal.

For his part, Brown is touring early voting states and told reporters he doesn't plan to make a final decision on whether to launch a presidential campaign until March. He declined on Tuesday to criticize any of his possible opponents in the primary, saying that "nobody worries me," although "some face a more uphill climb than others."

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