Sen. Michael Bennet, who joined the presidential race after a fiery speech on the Senate floor during the government shutdown last year, has ended his bid for the presidency, according to the Associated Press.
Bennet had staked much of campaign’s future on the New Hampshire primary, forgoing months of campaigning in other early states to stick to the Granite State.
But Tuesday’s early results showed Bennet trailing his top-tier rivals by double-digits.
Bennet, 54, has served as a U.S. Senator from Colorado since 2009. He formally announced his candidacy in May.
“I think this country faces two enormous challenges,” he said in a “CBS This Morning” segment during which he announced his candidacy. “Economic mobility and opportunity for most Americans and … the need to restore integrity to our government.”
Bennet was among the more moderate candidates running in the Democratic primary. Bennet told NBC last year that Colorado “is a third Democratic, a third Republican, and a third independent, and people notice that we have gotten nothing done over the last 10 years other than the Affordable Care Act when the Democrats were in charge, and this terrible tax cut when Donald Trump was in charge.”
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His moderate politics included a middle-of-the-road approach to health care. Early in the primary, he sparred with Sen. Bernie Sanders over his Medicare-for-all plan, calling it “a bad opening offer” to conservatives.
“I have proposed getting to universal healthcare, which we need to do,” Bennet said during the June Democratic debate, responding to Sanders’ assertion that the abolition of private insurance companies could work in the U.S. because it worked in Canada.
“I believe the way to do that is by finishing the work we started with Obamacare,” he said, “and creating a public option that every family and every person in America can make a choice for their family about whether they want a public option, which for them would be like having Medicare for All, or if they would like to keep their private insurance.”
Bennet was appointed to his Senate seat after Sen. Ken Salazar left the post to serve as Secretary of the Interior in 2009. Prior to that, Bennet was managing director of Anschutz Investment Company, a venture capital company with stakes in sectors such as entertainment, media, and sports businesses. He also served as the Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, and chief of staff to fellow former candidate John Hickenlooper during his tenure as Denver’s mayor.
In early 2019, Bennet gained viral fame after he lambasted Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on the Senate floor during a government shutdown, accusing Cruz of shedding “crocodile tears” over unpaid government workers. The speech circulated widely online and led to calls for Bennet to consider running for president.
But his campaign never gained traction in the crowded Democratic primary field, and he failed to make several Democratic debates, which can bring with them more name ID and donations. Bennet’s national polling average in February was less than 1%, according to RealClearPolitics.