2020 Democratic candidate John Delaney makes his presidential pitch

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The 2020 presidential primary race is heating up on the Democratic side, as 18 major candidates are competing to be the next commander-in-chief. The first person who jumped in to the field is former Maryland Congressman John Delaney, and he has been running for president since July 2017.

He's a first-generation college graduate who was once the youngest CEO on the New York Stock Exchange. He then went on to serve three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. Now his full-time job is running for president.

"I think, by any measure, I'm the best person to defeat President Trump in 2020," said Delaney.

Many national polls show big names like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders leading the pack for the Democratic nomination for President, but what about John Delaney? The former Maryland congressman tells Washington Correspondent Alana Austin about his plan to take them on.

Delaney's strategy right now: heavily campaigning in early primary states, like Iowa and New Hampshire. He's already held 350 events, and wants to make sure every voter is heard.

"I want to make sure folks living in rural communities understand that someone like myself really cares about them," said Delaney.

Delaney just launched the Heartland Fair Deal - a broad set of policies and proposals between the federal government and local communities intended to lift up rural America. He calls himself a 'compassionate capitalist' but says the economy isn't working for everyone.

"Sure, San Francisco is doing great and Los Angeles is doing great, and Boston and New York and a couple other places. But so many parts of this country have really been left behind by all the economic changes that have occurred," said Delaney.

During his hour-long interview at the Gray Television Washington News Bureau, Delaney broke down a thorough set of plans to revamp the economy, curb climate change through American technological innovation, and fix health care. He wants to develop a government-backed plan that allows private insurance options.

"We need some form of universal healthcare," said Delaney. "But I don't want that to be the only option the American people have. I'm not like the other Democrats who are running for president, who basically want to force a government-only plan on the American people, because I don't think the American people want that."

And when it comes to hot-button issues like immigration, Delaney wants to shake up the system, and protect the border.

"We need barriers in certain places, no question," said Delaney about balancing different needs. "What I've called for is comprehensive immigration reform and, in that, we create a pathway to legal status and citizenship for the folks who are here who are undocumented."

When asked what sets him apart from the crowded field of candidates, Delaney highlights his business record, humble roots and clear vision for the country.

"...My approach to politics, because of my background, blue-collar kid, successful entrepreneur, and now I had the privilege of serving in Congress. No one's got a background like that. I think the American people, even if they're not in my party, will trust me that I'll be a leader that represents them," said Delaney.

Delaney plans to visit every state in the continental U.S. by mid-summer. He then plans to make his way to Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. That packed traveling schedule would still leave several months before the first primaries begin.