Sen. Bennet says Biden ‘cannot win,’ warns of Trump landslide

Biden Immigration
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
President Joe Biden speaks about an executive order in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Biden unveiled plans to enact immediate significant restrictions on migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Updated at 9:53 p.m. on July 9, 2024.

Sen. Michael Bennet told CNN's Kaitlan Collins Tuesday evening that he believes Pres. Joe Biden cannot win November's general election.

"I just think this race is on a trajectory that is very worrisome if you care about the future of this country," Bennet said. "Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election and maybe win it by a landslide and take with him the Senate and the House.”

While concern about Biden’s candidacy has swirled through Democratic circles since the president's disastrous debate performance last month, Bennet is the first Democratic U.S. Senator to make such a statement publicly. 

Bennet noted that Biden led former Pres. Donald Trump by five points at this time in the 2020 race. Current national polls have Trump ahead by 2 percent on average, according to the tracking website 538.

“For me, this isn't a question about polling, it's not a question about politics. It is a moral question about the future of our country,” said Bennet. “And I think it's critically important for us to come to grips with what we face if, together, we put this country on the path of electing Donald Trump again.”

CNN also reported that Bennet was one of three Democratic senators, along Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who aired similar doubts about Biden’s candidacy during a caucus lunch earlier Tuesday.

Bennet seemed to push back on pundits and fellow Democrats “who think that this is just going to take care of itself when it's just a contrast between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.” He suggested it would not.

“If we just sit on our hands, if we say we're going to disregard what is plainly in front of us – and plainly in front of the American people – and we end up electing Donald Trump again as president of the United States, that's going to be a huge tragedy beyond epic proportion,” Bennet told Collins.

“It's something I can't live with,” he said.

However, Bennet fell short of calling for Biden to step out of the race.

“This is something for the president to consider,” he said. “I can understand how hard it would be, if I were Joe Biden, to sit there and to say to myself, after all I've worked for, after all I've accomplished, after all the extraordinary public service I've given to the American people … that you are in the race of your lifetime with somebody you can't beat.”

“I think it's really hard for the people that are working for him to acknowledge,” Bennet said. “I think they have a moral obligation to look themselves in the mirror and to be able to say, ‘We know we can win this race.’”

The Biden campaign responded to Bennet’s comments Tuesday evening by reiterating the president’s commitment to defeating Trump

“This was always going to be a close race - and the dynamics at play are the ones we’ve long anticipated: voters continue to be deeply concerned by Donald Trump and his harmful agenda, and the more we engage and reach out to voters, the more they support President Biden," said. campaign spokesperson, Kevin Munoz in a statement.

The White House announced late Tuesday that Biden would meet virtually with the Democratic Mayors Association to discuss the 2024 election. The group's board later released a statement in support of the president.

Bennet’s colleagues in the Colorado delegation were more measured in their comments after Tuesday’s Democratic caucus meetings. 

Sen. John Hickenlooper refused to weigh in on the race.

“If you're trying to get me to take a position on whether he should continue his campaign, I will collectively avoid answering the question, just because right now, it's a process of really listening,” Hickenlooper told the Washington Examiner.

Joe Biden, Michael Bennet
Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
President Joe Biden talks with Sen. Michael Bennet at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colo., Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. Bennet became the first Democratic U.S. Senator to publicly say Biden cannot beat Trump this fall.

Leaving the gathering of House Democrats, first term Rep. Brittany Pettersen said, “We’re united to make sure we defeat Trump.” But she acknowledged people had different opinions on what that would look like going forward.

She added that House members had “a serious conversation” and many perspectives were heard.

Rep. Diana DeGette hurried from the caucus meeting to attend a White House signing ceremony for legislation that included her bill to transform and modernize nuclear energy production and workforce. She released a statement afterward describing a policy-heavy conversation she had with the president after the signing.

“Throughout the ceremony and this conversation, President Biden demonstrated his clear grasp of the issues and the same wit and energy I have seen throughout our nearly 30-year working relationship," DeGette said in the statement. "I am proud to have such an incredible ally and champion for the American people in the White House, and I look forward to working with President Biden on behalf of my constituents and the American people."

CPR's Caitlyn Kim contributed to this story.