Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) said most people aren't "telling me they want socialism" in an interview Wednesday on CNN.
CNN host Poppy Harlow recounted House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R., Calif.) reference to both the four congresswomen recently targeted by President Donald Trump and the entire Democratic Party as "this new Democrat socialist majority."
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"I wonder if you think it is catchy and if you think it is dangerous to your party's chances in 2020," Harlow said.
"No, it's not," Swalwell said. "I understand though why if you're working really hard and you're just living paycheck to paycheck, or you have student loan debt and you're not able to buy a house, you may be asking for something other than the capitalist system that we have today. But most people aren't telling me they want socialism. They're saying they just want to see their hard work add up."
"I think we're of the party where if you work hard, it adds up," he added.
Swalwell wrapped up his 2020 presidential campaign last week after just three months on the trail. Although strongly progressive, he was resistant to trashing the tenets of capitalism.
"I've seen the benefits of capitalism in this country, but I've also seen its shortcomings," Swalwell said in April, shortly before announcing his White House bid.
McCarthy has called the influence of the far-left members of the caucus, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), a sign that the opposing party has shifted too far to appeal to the mainstream.
"It goes to the core of where this Democrat Party is," McCarthy said Friday on Fox Business. "They're no longer Democrats. This is a socialist Democratic party. Think for a moment. What [are] AOC's policies? I mean, they really are, and she calls herself a socialist Democrat. So it just shows how far left this Democrat Party has moved."