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Swalwell charts moderate course in Las Vegas speech at UNLV

Updated April 16, 2019 - 6:44 pm

Newly announced presidential candidate Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., charted a decidedly moderate course Monday as he unveiled his candidacy to a town hall meeting of the UNLV Young Democrats.

It was Swalwell’s first visit to Las Vegas since announcing his candidacy April 8.

Swalwell said he’s against Medicare for all, because it would eliminate choice, but allowed that he’d let anyone into the program who wants to join. People who get health coverage through work or a union plan could keep that insurance, he said.

He also said he’s in favor the Green New Deal but wouldn’t do away with coal-fired power plants. Instead, Swalwell said, he’d encourage investment in technology to trap carbon emissions, while retaining the jobs at those plants.

“I’m running for president because I don’t want to play defense every year I’m in Washington,” he told the crowd of about 120 people.

“It’s time to go on offense. And going on offense for me means working to bring the promise of America to all Americans,” he said.

But if Swalwell was moderate on some issues, he was adamant on gun control: He said the right to live and worship without violence is more important than any other right under the Constitution, and proposed a national ban and buy-back program to eliminate what he estimated were 15 million military-style rifles in the country.

America has had “moments of silence when all you needed were moments of action,” he said.

Swalwell, the son and brother of police officers, also told the crowd that he doesn’t support local law enforcement performing immigration enforcement. “I support sanctuary cities, but my goal is to get rid of them because we have immigration laws that don’t require them,” he said.

He also sought to avoid the socialism-capitalism debate that has caused some other candidates to fumble by saying he’s reaped benefits from capitalism but also witnessed the travails of many Americans who have not been so lucky.

Swalwell, a graduate of the University of Maryland law school, said he’s facing $100,000 in student debt, and proposed tax credits for employers who contribute to retiring their employees’ outstanding loans. And if public university students agree to do community service after school, they should get debt-free educations, he said.

Swalwell — who serves on the House Intelligence Committee — deployed a couple of attack lines targeting the president. He said he appears on the Fox News Channel because “you get to brief the president directly,” and denounced Trump’s negotiation skills using the title of the president’s book.

“Donald Trump may have written ‘The Art of the Deal,’ but he didn’t read it,” Swalwell said.

In a question-and-answer session with reporters after the town hall, Swalwell said he is against shipping nuclear waste to Nevada and supports legislation that would put the nuclear repository in a state where residents want it.

Swalwell joins 19 other Democrats who have announced their candidacies for president, a list that may grow if former Vice President Joe Biden decides to make a run.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0253. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twittter.

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