Log In

Reset Password

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet expresses concern about Biden staying in race

‘The future of our country is at stake. … America’s standing in the world is at stake’
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet speaks to a group of reporters Monday at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. He voices concerns about Biden's prospects after shaky debate performance. (Kathryn Squyres/Durango Herald)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said Monday he hopes congressional Democrats will spend the week discussing whether President Joe Biden should continue his run for a second term.

“I think it's very appropriate for us to be having this discussion because a lot of these concerns are on the minds of the American people and we need to make sure that we go forward with our best foot forward,” he said.

The Colorado senator’s remarks come amid a swirl of uncertainty among congressional Democrats about whether the president should continue his run for a second term after a shaky performance at the first presidential debate. Outlets including The Washington Post have kept tallies on the small but growing number of congressmen – all House representatives prior to Monday – who have publicly called on the president to step aside or expressed concern over his resolve to continue.

The president Monday morning sent a letter to Democrats in Congress saying, that “despite all the speculation in the press and elsewhere, I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump.”

Biden also cited the 87% of Democratic voters who backed him in the primaries, writing, “The voters of the Democratic Party have voted. They have chosen me to be the nominee of the party. Do we now just say this process doesn’t matter? That the voters don’t have a say?”

Bennet said he met with constituents during the past week in Colorado who raised concerns about the president’s vitality in the race, saying that though some had not made up their minds, “they were saying that they want to make sure that what they saw during the course of the debate – and frankly, in the week since the debate – so far was not a predictor of what this campaign was going to be like, or what a second term was going to be.”

Bennet said he, too, had been “surprised” by the debate and hoped that it was just one rough night in the campaign, but that “I don't think the week since has been a very good week for the White House.”

Given what is at stake, he said having an “open discussion” and an “open debate” among Democrats on the Hill about the best way to win both the White House and the two chambers of Congress as “an act not of disloyalty, but an act of loyalty,” and that he hopes “the president sees it that way,” too.

“The future of our country is at stake. Our children's future is at stake. America's standing in the world is at stake. The majorities in the House, in the Senate are at stake. The presidency is at stake,” Bennet said. “And in my mind, these are not political questions. These are moral questions.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., has been privately working to gather a group of senators to approach the president and ask him to step aside. While Bennet didn’t say whether he’d been involved in the group, he said he agreed with Warner that the president must hear from more voices in the White House.

“Oh, I completely agree with Sen. Warner on that,” he said. “I think that it's always good to hear from as many voices as possible, and I think that in every White House, there's a danger of insularity, and it's important to make sure everybody's fighting against that insularity.”

He added that he hadn’t spoken with the president personally since about six weeks ago, but would be open to connecting with him soon.

Despite the divides within the party, Bennet said he has “no doubt that we will unify as Democrats,” regardless of who becomes the presidential nominee. The senators are expected to discuss Biden’s chances as a candidate further at their weekly Tuesday lunch.

“We're not Donald Trump's cult of personality, we're the Democratic Party,” Bennet said. “And we understand the moral stakes of this election, we understand that our children's futures are going to be determined by the election, our standing in the world, as I said, will be determined by this election.”

Kathryn Squyres is an intern for The Durango Herald and The Journal in Cortez and a student at American University in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at ksquyres@durangoherald.com.

An earlier version of this story misspelled U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s last name in some instances.

Reader Comments