Landrieu: Democrats must ‘govern in a pragmatic way’

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu distinguished himself from budding voices in the left wing of the Democratic Party on Sunday and called for a “big tent” approach in the run-up to the midterm elections.

“I have always talked about governing from the middle,” Landrieu said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I am what they call a radical centrist. There’re not many of us left anymore. And yeah, it is really important for us to make sure that if we are given the responsibility to govern, that we govern in a pragmatic way, in a big tent way that makes sense.”

Landrieu has found his way onto lists of potential 2020 contenders as speculation mounts about the upcoming presidential election and prospective candidates position themselves. While many high-profile potential candidates have taken positions staunchly to the left, such as calling for abolishing the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, Landrieu said he does not think that is the right way to go.

“I don’t think abolishing ICE is a good idea,” Landrieu said. “Primarily, because when police departments get out of the way, do the wrong thing or govern in the wrong way, you don’t say get rid of the police department; you reform the police department.”

Landrieu said he believes at the same time that Congress should pass a comprehensive immigration system overhaul and called the practice of separating families at the border a “cruel thing.”

The former mayor repeatedly said he was not a candidate for president and did not yet plan to run in 2020, but he predicted a “family fight” among Democrats as they seek to limit President Donald Trump to one term. Landrieu said he expects a wide swath of candidates, including some who occupy the right and center positions of the Democratic Party, and again called for a “big tent” approach.

“The bigger message for Democrats long term is to do what the Republicans are not doing, which is to be a big tent party, to make sure that everybody has got room,” Landrieu said.

Asked about the momentum among self-described progressives and left-wing voices, Landrieu said the party would be misguided to quell that energy, but that Democrats should “forge” the energy toward pragmatic governance.

Landrieu’s appearance on CNN came ahead of the progressive political convention Netroots Nation in New Orleans, where major contenders for the 2020 race are set to appear. Asked about what it might mean that he was not scheduled to be at the event in his hometown, Landrieu said he had not been invited, but he did not think that was “a sign of anything plus or minus.”