Senator Michael Bennet launches Democratic presidential bid
The 54-year-old made his announcement on the CBS This Morning show.
Senator Michael Bennet has jumped into the packed Democratic presidential primary, announcing a 2020 campaign that stalled while he was treated for prostate cancer.
Mr Bennet, 54, who has carved out a reputation as a policy-oriented moderate, made his announcement on the CBS This Morning show.
The son of a former ambassador to India and a Yale law school graduate who worked in the Clinton administration, Mr Bennet worked for Republican billionaire Phil Anschutz when he moved to Colorado in the late 1990s.
But he re-entered public life as a Democrat, serving as chief of staff to then Denver mayor John Hickenlooper.
Mr Hickenlooper, who went on to become Colorado governor, is now also competing for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The presence of two moderates who started their political careers in Denver City Hall reflects how crowded the Democratic presidential field has become.
Mr Bennet’s understated style and distaste for sound bites have usually led to speculation that he would seek a Cabinet position rather than try to become the next president.
Even in one of the most dynamic economies, the vast majority of people can’t afford some combination of health care, housing, child care, and higher education. Let’s change that. Talking to @CBSNews about my #MedicareX plan to lower healthcare costs & give people a better option. pic.twitter.com/7MYqxlVzMZ— Michael Bennet (@MichaelBennet) May 2, 2019
But he began moving to assemble a presidential bid late last year and planned an announcement in April. He had to pause after being diagnosed with prostate cancer this spring.
Mr Bennet has been a vocal opponent in the Democratic Party of the push for single-payer health care championed by Senator Bernie Sanders, another 2020 presidential candidate.
Instead, Mr Bennet proposes letting consumers buy into Medicare through insurance exchanges, arguing this would be a more efficient and realistic path to universal coverage.
Likewise, Mr Bennet has pushed back against arguments by some other presidential hopefuls that Democrats should respond to Republican tactics by expanding the size of the Supreme Court, saying the party needed to avoid the same scorched-earth tactics that, he said, its main rival employed.
Despite his professorial reputation, Mr Bennet has shown an ability to be a tough campaigner.
Appointed in 2009, Mr Bennet won his first election in 2010 by pounding his Republican rival for opposing abortion rights and comparing homosexuality to alcoholism, eking out a narrow win in an otherwise disastrous year for Mr Bennet’s party.
Four years later, Mr Bennet chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a position that put him in contact with a network of national donors who could also help fund a presidential campaign.
Mr Bennet gained internet fame this year when he blasted Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas for backing a bill to pay Coast Guard members during the partial government shutdown but not reopen the government.
Mr Bennet said Mr Cruz once led a 16-day government shutdown in a failed bid to derail funding for the Affordable Care Act at a time when Colorado was experiencing catastrophic flooding, delaying relief efforts.
“When the senator from Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded,” Mr Bennet shouted.
“People were killed. People’s houses were destroyed. Their small businesses were destroyed, forever.”
Mr Bennet accused Mr Cruz of crying “crocodile tears” this time around.