Earlier this week, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet fretted that his nascent bid for president and his message for America might be lost if he were unable to qualify for the first Democratic Presidential Primary Debate in June. On Thursday, got the chance to go (almost) directly to the American people and tell them why he should be in the White House.
Bennet was the latest from the field of 23 Democrats to feature on a CNN Town Hall.
“I think we have to build a big coalition of Americans — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — to overcome the broken politics in Washington, D.C. It will never fix itself,” he said during the hour-long program. “It will only become more bitter and more partisan if we as a country don’t come together and say, ‘We demand something better.’“
Bennet also touched on the headlines of today, like the Trump administration’s escalating tariff wars with China and Mexico, as well as the Mueller Report that looked into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Asked if other Democratic presidential contenders were wrong in calling for impeachment proceedings to begin against President Donald Trump, Bennet said a more nuanced approach might be necessary.
It was a stance perhaps akin to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, with both politicians attempting to walk a line between doing battle with Trump and looking at the long-term effects — i.e., trying to maintain control of the House and win the Senate and White House in 2020.
“If we go down the road tomorrow and impeach President Trump, we’re actually giving him a favor--that’s what he wants, to be able to say he was railroaded,” Bennet said. “And then have the impeachment from the House go to the Senate, where I guarantee you [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and the Republicans are not gonna impeach Donald Trump. They’re gonna acquit Donald Trump and then he’s gonna run for President saying he was acquitted...”
Bennet said that in his view, Trump has “committed impeachable offenses, but we have to go through the process.” He then spoke to a more strategic approach, not on where “we immediately want to run out and Tweet and race to judgment.”
“I’m tired of losing to these guys. I’m tired of losing to Mitch McConnell, I’m tired of losing to a guy like Donald Trump, who never should have won the presidency to begin with.”
Even when Bennet appeared to give Trump the slightest bit of credit — at one point, he said the president was correct in calling out China over its trade policies — he immediately took it away, saying the administration’s approach to the issue has been “completely the wrong way.”
“We have an incredible opportunity to create alliances all over this world, from Europe, through Asia, to Latin America and Africa, to push back on China’s practices and benefit workers here in the United States, and throughout the rest of the world,” Bennet said. “And that’s not what we’ve had from this president.”
Of course, Bennet isn’t the only presidential candidate from Colorado as former Gov. John Hickenlooper is also in the race. Bennet worked for Hickenlooper, serving as chief of staff when the latter was mayor of Denver.
“I don’t know whatever happened to that guy...He was a terrible boss,” Bennet joked.
In his campaign, Hickenlooper has taken credit for helping re-vamp police oversight in the city; on Thursday, Bennet did the same, saying that at the direction of Hickenlooper he worked for 18 months to bring about reform.
In an era when police violence against members of minority communities is routinely captured on cellphones and upload to social media, Bennet said his experience in holding police accountable would make a difference.
“That was before digital cameras and what they have revealed, that the community always knew was happening, but that the police departments often said wasn’t happening... we now know that it is,” Bennet said. “And when I’m President of the United States, I can assure you that the Justice Department is going to take seriously every single complaint that comes from every single community where someone has been treated unfairly because of the color of their skin.”