U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., helped warm up the crowd for Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign rally in Greeley last week. Bennet said, “I’ve told the President over and over again that we’re going to win Colorado.” He reminded attendees that in 2010, he won his Senate seat by one vote per precinct and “we’re going to do better than that for Pres. Obama.”
Bennet is no doubt feeling the pressure to deliver swing-state Colorado for Obama. Six weeks earlier, he had told the Colorado delegation [see video above] at the Democratic National Convention…
“In my life and my very brief political career – so stick with my life – there is nothing more important than re-electing Barack Obama president of the United States,” Bennet said. “And Colorado is very likely the place that’s going to make this decision.”
A key to Bennet’s campaign strategy in 2010 – targeting independent, suburban women on issues related to reproduction – has become a template for Democratic candidates across the country, and for Pres. Obama. In his 2010 race, Bennet received the help from Guy Cecil, who went on to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Bennet, at that same DNC breakfast, focused on gender politics…
“It’s all going to come down to Colorado. There was a New York Times article this weekend, I don’t know if any of you saw it, but it was an article about the president’s path to victory. And it said, ‘This guy, Michael Bennet – we’d never heard of before, we never thought he’d win, everybody thought we’d lose, had no chance of ever winning – won in 2010 and that’s the path the president is taking to win in 2012…’
“And if you’ll forgive me, as the father of three daughters, I have to say, it was Colorado’s women, in particular…who created the biggest gender gap in any Senate race in the entire United States to make sure that we won in Colorado. And that’s what we’re going to have to do again.”
On Sept. 28, well before Pres. Obama’s disastrous debate performance in Denver on Oct. 3 preceded a severe erosion in his support among women, we speculated that “The Democrats’ cynical exploitation of women voters may not work.”
In the Sept. 1 New York Times story, Bennet said of the presidential election, “I am not sure there has been an election where women have a clearer choice.” Bennet, described by the Times as working “closely with the White House,” was seated at the Oct. 3 debate next to First Lady Michelle Obama and presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Bennet, the former Denver Public Schools Superintendent, was appointed U.S. Senator to succeed Ken Salazar (when the latter was appointed to be Secretary of the Interior). Bennet had been an early backer in 2007 of Obama’s presidential run. For Bennet’s 2010 candidacy, the President reportedly helped Bennet raise $675,000 at one event in Denver.
Bennet owes Obama, and Obama would very much like Colorado’s nine electoral votes. So much so that Bennet, in his own words, is telling the President, “over and over again” that he’ll get them.
A recent report reads between the lines to suppose that the Obama campaign may consider Colorado less winnable than the swing-state firewall of New Hampshire, Ohio, Iowa, and Nevada.
“That [Obama adviser David] Plouffe left Colorado off his list of states where Obama’s leading and can withstand a Romney surge might be telling,” wrote Major Garrett in the National Journal.
Regardless, this would appear to be a significant moment in the political career of Colorado’s junior senator. Not only is he under pressure to deliver his home state of Colorado, he is, in many ways, the public prototype of the president’s gender-gap re-election strategy nationally. If it fails, Bennet relevance as a national political player may fall with it.