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John Hickenlooper Mocks Bernie Sanders In Democratic Presidential Debate

(CBS4) - Tuesday night might have been John Hickenlooper's last chance to make a big impression on the national stage in the race for the Democratic nomination for president. The former Colorado governor and mayor of Denver needed a strong performance in the CNN debate -- which featured Hickenlooper and 9 of his fellow hopefuls -- if he wishes to remain a viable candidate in the race.

John Hickenlooper Democratic presidential hopeful
(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Hickenlooper's campaign lost some ground after the first set of debates, and CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd reports that Tuesday night's debate appearance probably helped him -- he got more speaking time in this second round -- but it might not be enough.

John Hickenlooper Democratic presidential hopeful
(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
John Hickenlooper Democratic presidential hopeful
(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

"He had one of the more amusing moments of the night when he mimicked Bernie Sanders, but he's Mr. Mild Mannered in a world of pit bull politics, and that's not good in a debate setting," Boyd said on CBS4 News at 10. "He did little to move the needle tonight, but did get under the skin of the two liberal populists leading the pack."

"I think if we're going to force Americans to make these radical changes, they're not going to go along with it. ... throw our hands up," Hickenlooper said, to which Sen. Bernie Sanders did so. Then Hickenlooper proceeded to throw his hands up in imitation and said "Woahoo, I can do it! But you haven't implemented the plans."

John Hickenlooper Democratic presidential hopeful
(credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

In addition to mocking Sanders, Hickenlooper shook his head at Sen. Elizabeth Warren. He said campaigning on the big government ideas of Sanders and Warren would hand the election to Donald Trump.

"This notion that you're going to take away private insurance for 180 million Americans, who -- many of them don't want to give it up, many of them do want to get rid of it but some don't, many don't -- or you're going to with the Green New Deal make sure every American is guaranteed the government job that they want. That is a disaster at ballot box. You might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump."

John Hickenlooper Democratic presidential hopeful
John Hickenlooper speaks to the media in the spin room after the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 30, 2019. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The frontrunners among Tuesday night's debate -- the first of two hosted by CNN -- fired back twice as hard.

"The truth is that every credible poll that I have seen has me beating Donald Trump," Sanders said.

"I think we aren't going to solve the urgent problems that we face with small ideas and spinelessness," Warren said.

Sanders and Warren support Medicare for all. Hickenlooper wants a public option.

"It would be an evolution not a revolution," he said.

They also want to decriminalize border crossings. He doesn't. And Hickenlooper suggested that while the two senators talk the talk, he has walked the walk.

"Us governors and mayors, we're the ones that have to pick up all the pieces where suddenly the government is supposed to take over all these responsibilities, and there's no preparation, the details don't work. You can't just spring a plan on the world and expect it to succeed," Hickenlooper said.

RELATED: Democratic Debate Grades: 'D' For John Hickenlooper

The polling and fundraising thresholds for getting into the next set of debates in September are much higher than the first two. Boyd said she doesn't expect Hickenlooper's campaign will be able to clear those. (Fewer than 10 candidates have reached the marks for that debate so far.)

Sen. Michael Bennet, Colorado's senior senator, will appear in the second night of the second round of the debates on Wednesday night.

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