A somewhat pensive Gov. John Hickenlooper sat down with members of the media today to reflect on Tuesday’s election, discussing what it portends for Colorado and how the president-elect might impact some major issues around the state.
It was a long, bitterly divisive election season, which Hickenlooper likened to the Hatfield-McCoy feud of the 19th century. Hickenlooper recited at length from President Abraham Lincoln, who won one of the “dirtiest elections” in the midst of the Civil War. Shortly after his reelection, Lincoln wrote that “While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re-election, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be pained or disappointed by the result. May I ask those who were with me to join with me in the same spirit toward those who were against me?”
The governor also recalled Lincoln’s statement that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” saying that Colorado “has always embraced that sentiment. In some ways, it actually defines us.”
Hickenlooper cited health care, specifically the Affordable Care Act (ACA); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and public lands as the three main areas of concern for Colorado under Republican President-elect Donald Trump.
Hickenlooper’s biggest concern around the Affordable Care Act is what will happen to people with pre-existing health conditions. The ACA mandated that health insurance companies cover those people, but if it is repealed in its entirety, that mandate ends. Republicans in Congress voted 50 times to repeal the Act and Trump said today he planned to “fix” it, without saying how.
“Everybody should have basic health care, that is a right to all people,” Hickenlooper said, but acknowledged that is not a view shared by Republicans. “I don’t think Democrats will walk away from” wanting to see healthcare available to everyone, he said.
The EPA is another issue that concerns the governor, who commented that while he expects Trump to repeal the Clean Power Plan, that will not change what happens in Colorado. “We’ve been careful to say our Clean Power Plan is independent of anything” that came from the EPA. He also said he believes the EPA could pull back on methane regulations, but vowed that that will not happen here.
Hickenlooper noted that Coloradans believe their public lands should be protected, although he indicated that those lands could be made more available for commerce and industry and perhaps sold off. “Those lands should not be put up for auction,” he said.
“I’m always the optimist. I hope that on each of these issues we get to a place where we can work well with the new cabinet members and the president-elect.”
Hickenlooper also explained why he thought Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton lost the election. He put much of the blame on Wikileaks and an 11th-hour letter from FBI Director James Comey regarding a new batch of emails discovered on one her aide’s computers that was later found to be of no consequence. There’s never been FBI intrusion into an election before, Hickenlooper commented.
But Clinton also doesn’t come across well on TV, Hickenlooper said. He said that he’s spent a lot of time with the former Secretary of State, and that how she comes across is not the way she is in real life. But people didn’t trust her, the media didn’t trust her and she doesn’t trust the media, he added. “The breaks went against her.”
Then why did she win Colorado? Hickenlooper said he believed it was because of Colorado’s family values and that Trump, while a forceful personality, is also a “crude one.”
And in a message to Colorado children, some of whom reportedly are frightened of the president-elect, Hickenlooper pointed out that his own son, Teddy, saw kids crying in the halls of his school Wednesday and said that some are being bullied by others who backed Trump.
“I hope other kids will stick up for [those being bullied,]” the governor said. “I hope people will speak up. I know I will.