Sen. Michael Bennet Ends 2020 Democratic Presidential Bid

The “pragmatic idealist” from Colorado couldn’t make it in a crowded field of candidates— many of whom are politically further left.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race.

Bennet’s announcement came late Tuesday as polls closed in New Hampshire.

“I am going to do absolutely everything I can do as one human being to make sure that Donald Trump is a one-term president,” Bennet told supporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday. “I will support the nominee of my party no matter who it is.”

The self-described “pragmatic idealist” charted a politically centrist path while many of his Democratic opponents veered further to the left. While job creation and affordable health insurance featured prominently in his platform, Bennet stopped short of advocating for “Medicare for All” like rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and, to a lesser extent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

After participating in the first two Democratic debates in June and July 2019, Bennet failed to qualify for any subsequent appearances. He was aware that he was one of the lesser-known candidates ― and tried to use it to his advantage. 

“I’m not as well-known,” he told Quad Cities public radio in an early December interview. “I’m not a celebrity politician, and I don’t raise money as well as some of these other people do on the internet because I’m not going to make empty promises to the American people. I’m going to tell them the truth, and I think that’s how I’m going to win.”

With limited resources compared with his better-funded rivals, Bennet went “all-in” on New Hampshire, where his campaign aimed to finish among the top three candidates in the state’s primary. Early returns showed that was not happening.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is no longer running for president.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is no longer running for president.

Bennet’s campaign emphasized restoring “American values,” including by reversing some of the policies implemented by Trump’s administration. He advocated reforming the immigration and criminal justice systems and reestablishing “U.S. global leadership” economically and politically.

Bennet’s climate change plan concurred with scientists’ “most aggressive targets,” aspiring for “net-zero emissions as soon as possible,” or by 2050. He also vowed to tackle corruption in politics, including by passing a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling that blocked limits on corporate or union donations to political campaigns.

But his Senate experience and more moderate stances were not enough to make his run competitive. Bennet’s campaign couldn’t pick up the steam it needed to compete with household names like former Vice President Joe Biden or Sanders.

The senator underwent surgery for prostate cancer in April 2019, which delayed his entrance in the race and potentially hampered fundraising efforts.

He launched his bid in May after doctors declared him cancer-free, committing to confront “two enormous challenges” facing the United States: a “lack of economic mobility” and “the need to restore integrity to our government.”

“If we keep going down this road, we’re going to be the first generation of Americans to leave less opportunity, not more, to the next generation,” he told “CBS This Morning” while announcing his candidacy.

Bennet served as superintendent of Denver Public Schools from 2005 through 2009, when former Gov. Bill Ritter (D-Colo.) appointed him to fill the Senate seat vacated by incoming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (D-Colo.).

Carla Herreria contributed to this report.