Michael Bennet Avoids Biden, Pelosi on the Campaign Trail

Colorado Dems want national leadership to stay away from the state

Sen. Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) / Getty Images
September 1, 2022

DENVER, Colo. — Sen. Michael Bennet (D.) wants the president nowhere near Colorado, highlighting how toxic Joe Biden is in a state where Republicans haven't won a Senate race since 2014.

Bennet, who is up for reelection in November, on Saturday told a local outlet that Biden "doesn't need to come here." He added that his campaign is "going to do just fine" without the president's help.

Bennet faces a tougher than expected fight to keep his seat. Republican nominee Joe O'Dea has emerged as a uniquely strong candidate in a challenging national environment for Democrats. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently updated its rating of the race to a mere "Lean Democratic."

Bennet isn't the only Democrat keeping his distance from Biden. A few days after his comments, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on Wednesday arrived in Boulder, Colo., to champion the Inflation Reduction Act. No Colorado Democrat aside from Rep. Joe Neguse, who represents the district and won 61.5 percent of the vote in 2020, was in attendance.

The rationale for avoiding Biden and Pelosi is obvious: Democratic leadership is gravely unpopular. Biden suffers from historically low approval ratings, and the Inflation Reduction Act, which will not meaningfully lower consumer costs, has not moved undecided voters into the Democratic column. Other Democratic Senate candidates, such as Mandela Barnes (Wis.) and Tim Ryan (Ohio) have avoided campaigning with Biden as well.

The purpose of Pelosi's trip was to champion the Inflation Reduction Act, a $400 billion climate change and tax bill that Bennet supported. Even Colorado governor Jared Polis (D.) did not appear at a roundtable discussion with Pelosi, although the bill brings billions of dollars to the state for research funding. Polis faces reelection in November against Republican Heidi Ganahl.

"Coloradans continue to feel the pinch from the reckless agenda being pushed through by Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi," Republican State Leadership Committee deputy communications director Mason Di Palma said in a statement. "As Coloradans continue to struggle, Nancy Pelosi is now coming to the Centennial State to tout a bill that is going to raise taxes on middle-class families while adding thousands of new IRS agents. This bill is a disgrace and any Colorado Democrat that chooses to stand with Pelosi deserves to lose their job."

Bennet's snub of Biden is also part of his campaign's broader strategy of countering the impression that he is a Washington, D.C., insider. A multimillionaire who has seen his net worth skyrocket during his time in office, Bennet has released a series of ads portraying himself as an outdoorsman. The Washington Free Beacon previously reported that Bennet purchased a one-day license to shoot an ad that depicts him fly-fishing.

Bennet recently criticized Biden's student debt forgiveness scheme. That plan, which would forgive up to $20,000 of student debt for those who qualify, "does not solve the underlying problem," Bennet said in a statement.

"In my view, the administration should have further targeted the relief and proposed a way to pay for this plan," he said.