Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet doesn’t mind being the bland white guy in the Democratic presidential field.
“Let’s address the elephant in the room,” VICE News’ Alzo Slade asked the Colorado senator at the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum in Des Moines on Monday. “New York Magazine described you as ‘a bland white guy you’ve never heard of.’”
“That’s a fair description,” Bennet responded.
That, after all, is basically his thing. His pitch to voters, shortly after he launched his campaign, was that if he were elected, Americans wouldn’t have to think about him all the time, unlike the guy currently in the White House.
“I’ve stayed in the race because I actually think I have a stronger anti-poverty platform than anyone in the race,” Bennet said.
His big anti-poverty measure: Increase education funding and expand already-existing tax credits.
Unfortunately for Bennet, few people are thinking about him much now, while he’s trying woo voters.
His campaign’s YouTube page had a whopping 563 subscribers on Monday. He’s raised a total of $4.9 million from individual donors. Sen. Bernie Sanders, by comparison, has raised $62 million.
He was the seventh candidate to announce his run, back in May of 2019 — and he’s still running, though you might be forgiven for having forgotten about him. Polling nationally at less than 1%, he’s a long shot for the nomination.
He’s not as polished, either. He recently got himself tangled in his microphone on the stump while trying to take off his sportcoat, according to Politico. He’s been trying to get that across to voters with his calm monotone. Rhetorically, he’s the opposite of President Donald Trump: He’s not crass and he doesn’t yell. He seems to want to make politics boring again.
But his case is that he’s a practical-minded Democrat, more to the center than Sens. Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. And of the moderates, he’s younger than Joe Biden and has more experience than South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
And while the candidates to his left are literally drinking out of mugs emblazoned with the slogan “Billionaire tears,” Bennet is more moderate on the economics, too. He believes billionaires should exist, and opposes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Should businesses exist that are not able to pay their workers a living wage?” VICE News’ Roberto Ferdman asked Bennet.
His answer: “I don’t believe that people in this country should work and not earn a living wage.” His program of tax credits and education funding would successfully lift people out of poverty. But raising the minimum wage nationwide isn’t Bennet’s policy.
“People are better off making a wage than no wage,” he added.
Cover: Sen. Michael Bennet speaks to VICE News at the 2020 Iowa Brown & Black Forum Jan. 20, 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo: Justin Hayworth/VICE News)