Oct 13, 2022 - Politics

Michael Bennet aligns closely with Biden ahead of ballot drop

President Biden shakes hands with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet at Camp Hale near Leadville on Oct. 12. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden and Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado, on Oct. 12. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D) is attaching himself to an unpopular incumbent president just ahead of midterm election ballots going to voters in Colorado.

Driving the news: President Biden traveled to Colorado on Wednesday to grant Bennet an election-year wish by designating Camp Hale as a national monument, one of the senator's top priorities.

  • In doing so, Bennet aligned himself closely with a president who carries a 54% disapproval rating in Colorado, according to a Marist College poll released earlier this week.
  • Bennet previously told Axios Denver he supports Biden running for a second term.

Why it matters: The move comes as other Democratic U.S. Senate candidates are distancing themselves from Biden, criticizing his handling of the U.S. border crisis and the economy and suggesting he shouldn't seek re-election in 2024.

State of play: Bennet's approval rating is roughly the same as Biden's in Colorado, but his disapproval rating after 13 years in the U.S. Senate is much lower, at 33%, the poll found.

  • Democratic strategists dismissed the idea that the president's poor ratings would hurt Bennet. Instead, they believe it could help reinforce the administration's record and Bennet's support of the recent spending legislation.
  • "Contrary to a traditional midterm, no one is voting on Biden, they are voting on Roe and Trump and that should scare Republicans," said Democratic strategist Steve Welchert.

Flashback: Earlier this year, Bennet played coy on the question of campaigning with Biden, even telling the Colorado Sun that he didn't "need [the president] to come here" and could win re-election without him.

  • Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election by a 13-point margin in Colorado.

The other side: Still, the picture of Bennet standing next to Biden at Camp Hale gave Republicans and Bennet's Senate challenger Joe O'Dea room to attack the senator.

  • In a statement, O'Dea said "no amount of photo-ops in a place we all love will change this fact: accountability from the voters is coming soon." He has expressed opposition to the current CORE Act, which would include the preservation efforts Biden made at his Colorado appearance.
  • Republican strategist Dick Wadhams said Biden's rating in Colorado "by any stretch of the imagination is a liability for a Democratic candidate."

Of note: Moments after Biden's Camp Hale designation became public, the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group, announced it would air a new digital campaign ad touting Bennet's work and debut two new attack ads against O'Dea, increasing it's total investment in the race to $1.3 million.


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