Michael Bennet’s Presidential Campaign Ends In New Hampshire

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Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
Bennet says he’s ending his campaign in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet has officially dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination to run for president. 

He made the announcement after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday. He needed to do well in that contest to propel his campaign into the South Carolina primary and to jump start his fundraising.

"New Hampshire voters decided tonight, and tonight is not going to be our night," Bennet said. "I appreciate the fact that you gave me a chance here ... I wish all those candidates well that are going beyond New Hampshire. I think it's fitting for us to end the campaign tonight."

Bennet told the crowd at his party that he felt nothing but joy as he ended his campaign and will support the Democratic nominee. He said people might see him run again and a couple of people shouted "2024" in response.

He quoted James Baldwin: "This is in our hands and we have no right to assume otherwise."

As other candidates divided their time between Iowa and New Hampshire, Bennet focused solely on the Granite state since early December. He held close to 90 town halls in the hopes that the face-to-face retail politics that residents favor would counteract low poll numbers and his inability to meet the criteria for the debate stage.

"I love you New Hampshire," Bennet said at his primary party. "Whether you knew it or not, we were having a great time together."

The campaign operated on a shoe-string, but made it to Primary Day, even as candidates with strong polling and money dropped out.

Colorado's Democratic Gov. Jared Polis congratulated Bennet over Twitter for "running a dignified campaign."

Bennet is the second Colorado presidential candidate to drop out of the race after former Gov. John Hickenlooper ended his campaign Aug. 15. Just a week later, Hickenlooper announced he would join the also-crowded U.S. Senate race against incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner.

Rumors about Bennet considering a run for president began to swirl in December 2018. His kick-off was delayed though when the 55-year-old announced he was diagnosed with prostate cancer

“While hearing news like this is never easy, I am fortunate it was detected early, and as a result, my prognosis is good,” Bennet said in a statement at the time.

After a successful surgery, he officially announced he would join the presidential race in May, becoming at the time the 21st Democratic candidate.

"I think this country faces two enormous challenges, among others. One is a lack of economic mobility and opportunity for most Americans, and the other is the need to restore integrity to our government," Bennet told CBS This Morning. "I think we need to do both of those things."

A source close to Bennet told CPR News at the time that Bennet would focus on finance, education and foreign policy. 

In June, Bennet told Colorado Matters about his book, “The Land of Flickering Lights: Restoring America in an Age of Broken Politics." He said it included details of his life and outlined five moments of dysfunction in government or what he called “uncompromising factionalism.” 

Bennet will remain in the Senate, where he is up for reelection in 2022.