DENVER (CBS4)– Cancer won’t stop Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet from a possible run for president. Bennet, a Democrat, says he has early stage prostate cancer and will undergo surgery during Congress’ spring recess.
Bennet talked with CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd at Denver Green School, after visiting with students, to talk about the diagnosis.
“It’s not easy for you to hear you have cancer. It’s a hard thing to hear,” said Bennet.
He says the diagnosis could have been a good excuse not to run for president, instead he says it clarified for him that he needs to run. He says without health insurance, he may not have received a prostate screening and he may not have known he had prostate cancer until it was too late. Like many men who are diagnosed, he has no symptoms.
“What this changed in me, or at least has reinforced for me, is how damaging the political games are that have been played for a decade in Washington over health care. You’ve got a president who’s spent the first two years of his administration trying to kick 20 million people off their health insurance – I’m not making it up. Look it up. It’s what you’ll find – trying to kick people with pre-existing conditions off their health insurance.”
Bennet’s daughter among those encouraging him, “She said well Ms. Brown, my biology teacher, said this is very common among men your age.”
Bennet is 54 years old. His Senate colleagues, he says, have also been supportive.
“You know how dysfunctional I think the United States Senate is but to me, yesterday, it felt like a dysfunctional family in the best sense of the word because one person after another after another after another was coming up to me on the floor saying I had this or my brother had this or my dad had this.”
While he won’t make an official decision on whether to run until after his surgery, he plans to visit New Hampshire and Iowa over the weekend.
“We have to build a constituency for change out in the country. It’s not about the politicians in Washington D-C… we need the public on issues like how do we drive economic growth for everybody in this country, how to make work pay in this country, how to create a durable solution on climate change.”
He says kids, like those he visited with at Denver Green School, are what motivates him.
“We’re all going to be judged on how we leave this place to the next generation of Coloradans and of Americans as we should be and right now those kids aren’t going to judge us very well, but we have time left, hopefully a lot of time left to keep working on this stuff.”