TV news interviewers continue to grill Democratic presidential hopeful John Hickenlooper as to why he balked at calling himself a capitalist the other day. Is he or is he not a capitalist? What’s wrong with being a capitalist anyway? Those questions, unfortunately, keep dogging John Hickenlooper, former Colorado Governor and current 2020 Democratic presidential nomination candidate, who by the way did quite earnestly did want us to know he is NOT a capitalist. 

Hickenlooper’s attempts to avoid the label usually turned comical as both the TV news media and latenight TV shows keep trying to entrap the candidate with gotcha-type questions. Not many people have heard of him before, so everyone keeps trying to compare him to Democratic Socialists. Around the time he announced his candidacy, for example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who serves as the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, characterized capitalism as “irredeemable” in her past remarks.

Other Democrats who have similarly pointed their guns at the pharmaceutical industry (to cite one example), now regard capitalism as shameful and consider the pursuit of profit as crass and exploitative of working people. 

Well, Hickenlooper was not a capitalist until he began running for president.  “I started 20 businesses; I created over 1,000 jobs. I helped revitalize a large part of downtown Denver. If you are going to put a label on me, you might as well call me a capitalist,” he said.

No, he was not doing a flipflop.  It was more from a place discomfort. He wanted to be heard differently by the news media. “Labels divide us from each other,” Hickenlooper said. In this series of clips laid out below, we find a trail of TV appearances where he landed on a plateau in his responses.

Why is Hickenlooper qualified to become U.S. President?

Vote for him. Because he sat through a full porno movie next to your mom.

The debate over capitalism in the Democratic Party keeps muddying Hickenlooper’s campaign messaging. Instead of allowing him to address real and more pressing American issues, for example, during his interview on MSNBC, host Joe Scarborough asked him three times if he would call himself a capitalist. (The relevant segment starts at 2:45 in the video below.) 

What changed? Basically, Hickenlooper now says: You can call him almost anything else—just don’t call him a capitalist.

[1] On March 2019, Hickenlooper declined to consider himself a capitalist on “Morning Joe” interview on MSNBC.

Scarborough: Governor, would you call yourself a proud capitalist?

Hickenlooper: Well, you know, the labels, I’m not sure any of them fit. But I do believe that, you know, the ability to look at – climate change…(goes off on tangent about methane gas.)

Scarborough: Right, let me ask you, just, I’ll break it down even more. Do you consider yourself a capitalist?

Hickenlooper: (Discusses early days of Wynkoop Brewing Company, but makes a point to say he worked on 42 boards and committees of non-profits in a 12-year period.)

Scarborough: Do you consider yourself a capitalist and does capitalism work?

Hickenlooper: Well, I think, I don’t look at myself with a label… (Starts discussing that capitalism is not working as it once did in the US…)

[2] On latenight TV, it was Seth Meyers’ turn when he sat down with Hickenlooper on NBC’s “Late Night.”

“Whoever is going to be the Dem nominee will have to deal with this because Donald Trump is a name caller,” Meyers began, adding that Trump “likes to frame people in very narrow terms.” “You did not want to identify as ‘capitalist’ the other day. Donald Trump said you were ashamed of capitalism.”

Yet again, Hickenlooper took a stab at explaining. He likened being called a capitalist to someone calling him a “nerd” in high school. “If you ask if I was a nerd in high school, it’s maybe not the first label I would chose, but it’s hard to argue with,” he joked.


Since then, Meyers acknowledged, Hickenlooper has indeed identified as a capitalist. “I started 20 businesses; I created over 1,000 jobs. I helped revitalize a large part of downtown Denver. If you are going to put a label on me, you might as well call me a capitalist,” Hickenlooper added. “But the labels divide us.”  The former Colorado governor cautioned Meyers just as he had cautioned the others who similarly questioned him since he announced his White House bid.

Of all the latenight TV shows, Seth Meyers was the winner when it comes to introducing us to Hickenlooper’s insights. NBC’s “Late Night” seems to be one of the few TV platforms he has repeatedly used. 

[3] Hickenlooper said he wants to heal the U.S.’s deep divide


[4] The Colorado Governor had his reservations about marijuana at first. He explained to Meyers how he came around to pot legalization.


[5] Hickenlooper talked about owning his own brewpub and liberating pigs for PETA.


Hickenlooper reminded Meyers about 75% of American families are living month-to-month.

“Capitalism, and the American dream, is supposed to provide security and opportunity for the middle class, and for poor people,” he said. “Right now it’s only helping people at the top. Rather than attaching labels to everything, we need to be figuring out how to get people to come together and really reinvent capitalism in a way that works for everybody.”

[6] To be viewed as relatable, Hickenlooper talked about playing pool with Obama. Guess who won the game?


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Enough about Seth Meyer. After the Democratic debates, the most relevant TV show for Hickenlooper was ABC’s talk show “The View.”

[7] On July 19, 2019, the candidate discussed Trump’s “go back” tweets and rally, plus why he isn’t leaving the crowded 2020 field.

Full episodes:

[8] Never forget that John Hickenlooper accidentally took his mom to see “Deep Throat.”

“If you can sit through a full porno movie next to your mom, then nothing will faze you,” joked Trevor Noah in his “Daily Show.”


[9] “Firing Line With Margaret Hoover”

How did John W. Hickenlooper get Kurt Vonnegut’s support when he ran for mayor of Denver in 2003? Listen to Hickenlooper share the story of how this “curmudgeon” he also describes as “charming” became a member of his karass.


[10] PolitiFact

Former Denver Mayor and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s middle-of-the-road stances have garnered criticism that he tries to appease everyone. But he prides himself on his ability to compromise and avoid taking extreme positions. A geologist and businessman, Hickenlooper served two terms as Denver mayor before being elected Colorado governor in 2010. His campaign announcement, delivered via video on March 4, highlighted his personal successes. He reinvented himself by starting a brewery after being laid-off.

He also touts his experience of running rapidly growing Colorado, including by shepherding its economy and enforcing gun-control laws in the state. A moderate with bipartisan appeal, he pitches himself as the right person to take on Donald Trump, whose presidency he calls “a crisis that threatens everything we stand for” in his video.

Age: 67

Years in politics: 16

Who gives him money: Government workers, lawyers and lobbyists, and real-estate firms funded his gubernatorial races. He also received contributions from energy and telecom companies.

Biggest idea for the economy: Cutting red tape to reduce the cost of doing business and increase compliance with regulations.

Social media following: Twitter: 146,000, Facebook: 114,000, Instagram: 13,400.

Who will like this candidate: Centrists, Democrats who believe in bipartisanship, never-Trump Republicans.

Who will hate this candidate: Progressive Democrats.

Biggest strength: An unorthodox political persona and successful electoral track record in a swing state. He’s one of the few governors in a race heavy with senators and D.C. stalwarts.

Biggest weakness: He’s previously joked that he was too centrist to win the Democratic nomination. As governor he disappointed some environmentalists by not regulating the energy industry more. He’s another white male baby boomer in a party filled with younger and more diverse candidates that better reflect its base.

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