(CBS NEWS) – Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet is the latest Democratic contender to enter the packed field of 2020 hopefuls, announcing on “CBS This Morning” on Thursday that he’s running for president.
“My plan is to run for president,” Bennet told “CBS This Morning” co-anchor John Dickerson. “I think this country faces two enormous challenges, one is a lack of economic mobility and opportunity for most Americans and the other is the need to restore integrity to our government.”
Bennet, 54, overcame a bout with prostrate cancer earlier this year. He was diagnosed in April and quickly underwent surgery, which his office said was “completely successful” and would require no further treatment. He told CBS his diagnosis was “incredibly clarifying”, saying he was disappointed at the possibility of never being able to run.
“That gave me a chance to think about whether I really wanted to run or not,” he said.
While he faces an uphill fundraising battle with his delayed entry into the already jam-packed field, Bennet is optimistic about his political future.
“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think I had a chance to win,” Bennet, the 22nd Democrat to enter the race, told The Colorado Independent shortly after his diagnosis. “I think, like everyone else does, it’s a long shot. But I think everyone in the field is a long shot.”
Asked about the packed field of challengers he now faces, Bennet told CBS that it’s “phenomenal we have an array of candidates that we have” calling it a “competition of ideas.”
“The Democratic party doesn’t stand for very much at the national level with respect to what the American people think,” argued Bennet. “A process like this is long overdue in the Democratic party.”
In a nearly 4-minute long campaign video released Thursday morning titled “7,591 words” (a nod to the word count of the U.S. Constitution) Bennet makes the case that “politics and governing aren’t the same thing.”
“When campaigning never stops, governing never begins,” he adds.
Bennet acknlowedged in his campaign appeal that while he may lack in national name recognition “because I don’t go on cable news everyday”, he came to Washington because he wants to “pay attention to what would help the people who sent me there make their lives better.”
“So you may not know me, but over the years I’ve learned a lot about what Americans struggle with.”
The senator refers to himself as a “pragmatic idealist”, looking to herald in a “new era of progress” for Washington.
Considered a relatively moderate Democrat, Bennet has represented Colorado in the U.S. Senate since 2009. Before entering politics, he spent seven years in the private sector where served as director of the Anschutz Investment Company. It was there that he managed the consolidation of three major movie chains into the Regal Entertainment Group.
In 2003, Bennet became the chief of staff to then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who is also running for the Democratic presidential nomination. He left Hickenlooper’s office in 2005 to become superintendent of the Denver Public School system, where he helped pass a merit pay system for teachers. He was later appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Ken Salazar in 2009 and promptly re-elected the following year.
DEMOCRATIC CONTENDERS 2020: John Hickenlooper In, Michael Bennet Too
In a departure from his fellow Democratic contenders, Bennet, who supports creating a public option for health care while making private insurances available on Obamacare marketplaces, noted in his campaign rollout video that the answer to the nation’s health care woes does cannot be found in far-left policies like Medicare-for-All.
“I don’t think 180 million Americans want to give up the insurance they already have through their work or their union,” said Bennet.
Bennet was born in New Dehli while his father served as an aide to the U.S. Ambassador to India. His father then went on to take posts in the Carter and Clinton administrations, while his grandfather was an adviser to Franklin Roosevelt.