Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, “two N’s, one T,” became the 21st Democrat to announce his candidacy for president on Thursday.
But what makes him think he has a chance against the dozens of others also seeking their place in the White House?
“I have won very tough races in a purple state, winning red counties in that state,” he said.
Bennet also said he has a “tendency to tell the truth” and emphasized his track record of bipartisan work, his history of turning around failing businesses in the private sector, and his work in education as Denver Schools Superintendent. “I don’t think anyone has as broad a set of experiences, and I think that will distinguish me,” he said.
Bennet, who had earlier received a prostate cancer diagnosis, called it “clarifying,” an opportunity to determine whether he really wanted to run for president. After undergoing successful surgery to treat the cancer in mid-April, he decided he was in.
While healthcare will aptly be a central tenet of his candidacy, Bennet told CBS that there are two larger issues that he hopes to address should he be elected.
“One is a lack of economic mobility and opportunity for most Americans,” he said, “and the other is the need to restore integrity to our government.”
Bennet refers to himself as a “pragmatic idealist” with a reputation for being a moderate. And although he may struggle to stand out among the moderate and white male candidates—including fellow Coloradan former Gov. John Hickenlooper—in the increasingly crowded race, Bennet has already had a viral moment. In January, Bennet unexpectedly railed against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, accusing him of hypocrisy and shedding “crocodile tears” with regard to the government shutdown. The interaction became C-SPAN’s most watched video ever on Twitter with 13.8 million views.
In his campaign video, Bennet acknowledged that he still might not be a household name.
“You probably don’t me because I don’t go on cable news every night,” he says. “So you may not know me, but over the years I’ve learned a lot about what Americans struggle with.”
And what about his opponents? Bennet calls the crowded race for the Democratic Party ticket an “opportunity to show what we stand for” and a “competition of ideas.”
“I didn’t go to Washington to get attention,” says Bennet. “I went to pay attention to what would help the people who sent me there make their lives better.”