Sen. Michael Bennet: Everything you need to know about the presidential candidate

PHOTO: JOHNSTOWN, IA - FEBRUARY 22: Democratic Senator Michael Bennet speaks to the Polk County Democrats at Docs Lounge February 22, 2019, in Johnston, Iowa. (Photo by Joe Amon/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)PlayJoe Amon/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
WATCH Who is Michael Bennet?

Candidate number 21 has announced he's entering the burgeoning Democratic presidential field.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., announced he would run during an appearance on "CBS This Morning," bringing the Colorado contingent to two alongside former Gov. John Hickenlooper.

PHOTO: Sen. Michael Bennet speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference at the Washington Hilton, April 10, 2019, in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Sen. Michael Bennet speaks during the North American Building Trades Unions Conference at the Washington Hilton, April 10, 2019, in Washington, DC.

Bennet has long been considered a rising Democratic star and was eyed as a more-than likely presidential contender. His reputation as a relationship-builder within the party once earned him praise from former President Barack Obama.

He has portrayed himself as someone who could offer business and managerial experience in the already crowded candidate queue. Before he was appointed to the Senate in 2009, he served as superintendent of Denver Public Schools and worked for a large private company, Anschutz Investment Company. While working at Anschulz, he met fellow Wesleyan alumnus Hickenlooper, who was serving as Devner's mayor. Bennet subsequently served as Hickenlooper's adviser, then chief of staff.

PHOTO: Senators Mark Udall, right, and Michael Bennet, center, stand with Colo. Gov. John Hickenlooper, during an event on the front steps of the state Capitol in Denver, March 14, 2014. Brennan Linsley/AP, FILE
Senators Mark Udall, right, and Michael Bennet, center, stand with Colo. Gov. John Hickenlooper, during an event on the front steps of the state Capitol in Denver, March 14, 2014.

Here's everything you need to know:

Age: 54.

Born: Nov. 28, 1964

Party: Democrat

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Education: B.A., Wesleyan University, 1987; Yale Law School 1993

Family: Bennet married Susan Dagget in October 1997 and they have three daughters.

What he does now: Michael Bennet is a U.S. senator representing the state of Colorado. He was appointed by then-Gov. Bill Ritter to fill Ken Salazar's vacancy. Salazar became Secretary of Interior for the Obama administration. Bennet was re-elected to the Senate in 2010 and 2016.

Cancer diagnosis

For months now, he has mulled jumping on the 2020 trail, then in early April, he had a big announcement to make. He disclosed that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer -- news that delayed his presidential bid, but did not foil his intentions.

He had surgery during the two-week April congressional recess, and said if he received a clean bill of health after his recovery, he would move forward with his campaign.

Bennet has said that his cancer diagnosis inspired him to lean into health care reform as an essential issue and now he could be poised to make it central to his campaign platform.

Nearly in tandem with making his diagnosis public, Bennet and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., reintroduced their Medicare-X legislation which would create a new public option for health insurance -- something originally part of the Affordable Care Act, but which was rejected for being perceived, at the time, as too far to the left. With progressive issues being pushed forward in the current Congress, Medicare-X -- which would not eliminate all private insurance -- appears to be more moderate in comparison to ideas like Sen. Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-all plan.

A viral moment

The usually mild-mannered senator got a good deal of attention in January for his fiery criticism of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. He slammed his colleague over the partial government shutdown.

"These crocodile tears that the senator from Texas is crying for the first responders are too hard for me to take," Bennet said, his arms crossed, his voice rising.

"Because when the senator from Texas shut this government down, my state was flooded," he said. "It was underwater. People were killed. People's houses were destroyed. Their small businesses were ruined forever. And because of the senator from Texas, this government was shut down. For politics."

The moment quickly went viral and the spotlight on his speech paved a way for his campaign hopes.

On the issues

He's built his profile as a centrist Democrat, casting himself as a "pragmatic, independent thinker" who will work across the aisle and take on Washington dysfunction.

He has called for a "tough but fair" path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and has helped craft comprehensive reform bills in the Senate.

On education reform, Bennet has touted his background as former superintendent of the Denver Public School system as crucial nuts-and-bolts experience.

He holds a mixed record on gun control. He's voted to ban high-capacity magazines of over 10 bullets; he's also said he opposes restricting the right to bear arms; and, in 2009, he voted to allow Amtrak riders to check bags containing guns.

Then, on criminal justice reform, he's sought to make strides. In February, he cosponsored a bill to end the federal prohibition of marijuana, which would also expunge the convictions of those who have served federal time for marijuana use and possession offenses, reinvesting in low-income and minority communities through a community reinvestment fund.

What you might not know about him:

- He was born in New Delhi India, when his father was serving as an aide to ambassador Chester Bowles.

- He was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law School Journal

- His grandparents are Holocaust survivors

- Bennet's wife, Susan Dagget, is an environmental lawyer. She also went to Yale Law School.

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