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Colorado's John Hickenlooper enters presidential race, says country faces a 'crisis'

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John Hickenlooper smiles as he concludes his final speech as governor of Colorado during the inauguration ceremony for his successor, Jared Polis, on Jan. 8, 2019, in Denver. -
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David Zalubowski AP
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Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Monday that he is running for president, positioning himself as fighter for progressive priorities who won't shy away from a brawl with President Donald Trump.

In a video released Monday morning, Hickenlooper says his campaign would center on taking action on key issues like guns and climate change, but also in "repairing the damage done to our country." In a voiceover over footage of Trump, he says, "I'm running for president because we're facing a crisis that threatens everything we stand for."

Hickenlooper recalls being "a skinny kid with Coke -bottle glasses and a funny last name," adding that because of those traits "I've stood up to my fair share of bullies."

But while Hickenlooper seems ready for a fight with Trump, his introductory video also leans into his history of being able to "bring people together," especially during his two terms as governor of Colorado. He touts crafting environmentally friendly methane emissions laws in tandem with environmentalists and oil and gas companies; expanding Medicaid in Colorado; and passing tough gun control legislation after a mass shooter killed twelve people in Aurora.

That 2013 gun control legislation placed limits on gun magazines, as well as expanded background checks to firearms sales and transfers between private parties and in online purchases. The passage of those laws, however, also resulted in recall battles for several Democratic state senators over their support for the legislation.

Hickenlooper, who served the mayor of Denver before being elected governor, is also a geologist and brewpub owner. Monday's announcement makes him the second governor and the latest Democrat to jump into a crowded 2020 field — which features a number of senators and a mayor — with more bids expected to be announced soon. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced his candidacy for president on Friday.

Hickenlooper has been mulling a White House bid for months. He was a frequent presence on the campaign trail in 2018 stumping for Democrats, including Florida gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum, who lost his race by several tenths of a percentage point. And he has already made several stops to early voting and caucus states like South Carolina and Iowa.

After Monday's video announcement, Hickenlooper will host a Denver send-off for supporters before returning to Iowa — this time as an official presidential candidate.