Michael Bennet Ends 2020 Bid After Poor Showing in New Hampshire

February 11, 2020 Updated: February 11, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet ended his long-shot presidential bid Tuesday, failing to break out of a crowded Democratic field dominated by other moderate candidates, including Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar.

Bennet, 55, was a late entrant to the race who staked his bid largely on trying to win New Hampshire. He only formally announced his candidacy in late April, after completing treatment for prostate cancer.

“We weren’t able to get much in the way of name identification in the state,” Bennet said shortly after polls closed in New Hampshire. “We didn’t have the resources to compete. … I’m frustrated because I think we did have something to contribute in terms of the agenda.”

Bennet dropped out of the race shortly after entrepreneur Andrew Yang announced his own departure Tuesday night, bringing the Democratic presidential field to single digits.

Bennet ran on a centrist platform and instead of embracing “Medicare for All” and free college, Bennet ran on what he called his “Real Deal” platform. Those included annual payments of at least $3,000 to families with children under age 18, allowing people to buy into an expanded form of Medicare and a $1 trillion housing affordability plan.

Bennet struggled to register in the polls and he hovered in the bottom tier of the field even as he campaigned more in New Hampshire than other candidates, with 50 town halls in the final ten weeks. After July, Bennet never polled high enough or raised enough money to qualify for the debate stage again.

Bennet’s late entry also hobbled him. Because of his cancer diagnosis, he had to delay his candidacy, and he barely qualified for the first presidential debate. Bennet quickly began pushing back against the Democratic National Committee’s increasingly stringent debate qualification rules, complaining it was an unfair advantage for the staples of cable television who had been campaigning months, or even years, earlier.

In the end, he staked his bet on the path blazed by his political mentor, former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, who scored a surprise win in New Hampshire in the 1984 Democratic presidential primary and almost won the nomination. Bennet pledged to hold 50 town halls in New Hampshire during the final weeks of the campaign and spent almost every spare moment there.