Colorado Senator Michael Bennet Announces 2020 Presidential Bid

May 2, 2019

Colorado Senator - and former Denver Public Schools Superintendent - Michael Bennet is officially entering the race for president. He made the announcement Thursday on CBS This Morning.

Last month Bennet told the Colorado Independent that he postponed his announcement after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. He underwent surgery in Colorado during a Senate recess and is reportedly cancer-free. Bennet is the second Coloradan to join the race. Former Governor John Hickenlooper kicked off his campaign in March.

Bennet worked as John Hickenlooper’s chief of staff when Hickenlooper was mayor of Denver. In 2009, then-governor Bill Ritter picked him to fill a vacant Senate seat.

As far as message, Bennet's platform is similar to a lot of the other Democrat contenders in the race so far. He says Washington is dysfunctional, and that President Trump needs to go. In a nod to his time as DPS superintendent - his main talking point is that we’re not paying enough attention to students.

"I think we have the opportunity to have a presidential campaign - we’ve got a million people running, which is great - and I think having one more voice in that conversation that’s focused on America’s future - I don’t think - would hurt," Bennet said on Meet the Press in early February.

An impassioned speech from Senator Michael Bennet relating to the government shutdown went viral, and a thank you message appeared outside his downtown Colorado Springs office. January 2019.
Credit Andrea Chalfin / 91.5 KRCC

He also recently grabbed the spotlight recently in a way that caught a lot of people - especially those in Colorado - off guard. In a long and passionate speech in January during the government shutdown he responded to Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who had put the blame on Democrats for causing the shutdown. He can be heard yelling on the Senate floor.

"Which goes to my final point, how ludicrous it is that this government is shut down over a promise the president of the United States couldn’t keep!" Bennet said.

The outburst is uncharacteristic of Bennet and it made national headlines, going viral.

Seth Masket, director of the Center on American Politics at the University of Denver, said that notieriety
 may not be enough to gain enough support for a successful presidential run, though.

"It’s a pretty good start for impressing Democrats across the country but he doesn’t have a deep well to draw from," Makset said.

Another problem Bennet has is his friend - and former boss - John Hickenlooper. Both have both publicly said the more candidates, the merrier. But as Masket points out, the former governor already has a big head start.

"It’s already a fairly crowded field, and the fact that Hickenlooper has already secured commitments from a fair amount of democratic donors in the state…if Hickenlooper’s campaign gets any traction at all, it’ll make it harder for Bennet to jump in."

For those who knew Bennet prior to his political career, many have said he's a good listener and takes criticism well. Theresa Pena was on the DPS school board when Bennet served as superintendent.

"I think what I hope as our next president, whether it's Michael or anybody else, is that this tendency to go to the corners and become ideologically driven is just exhausting for people and this constant fighting and conflict," she said. "I think that while Michael is not afraid to engage in a good battle...that is not his first, second or third tendency.

Bennet is more moderate than senators Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren for example, but he’s definitely not holding back on Trump. Bennet told attendees at a recent house party in New Hampshire - that Trump’s election was a “tragedy.”

"But it’s not enough just to beat him," he said. "We gotta figure out how to come out on the other side constructing a new politics that’s worthy of our children and grandchildren."

It’s also been said that you can’t run for president unless you’ve written a book—Bennet reportedly has one come out later this year.