MANCHESTER, N.H. – U.S. Senator Michael Bennet came to Manchester Community College on Monday night in what would have been his 50th New Hampshire event if not for impeachment proceedings earlier in the day.
Ultimately, the town hall represented the 47th New Hampshire event for Bennet (D-CO), with an event at Alvirne High School originally scheduled on Monday postponed to Tuesday.
Bennet, who came into the evening far behind the front-runners in most polls, asked members of the audience to use their power as New Hampshire voters to send a message to political pundits and catapult him into national limelight.
“We are living in a moment where there’s an effort by some, and just by forces outside of our control really, to nationalize this political conversation, I think prematurely,” he said. “New Hampshire voters still present the opportunity to stand in a room and have a conversation with people face-to-face and have a discussion on the direction we want to move our country forward.”
Bennet largely avoided attacking his Democratic opponents, indirectly referencing the fact that the budget he oversaw as the superintendent of the Denver Public Schools was three times larger than the budget of South Bend, IN during the tenure of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
He also referenced the Medicare for All proposal of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), contrasting it with legislation he has introduced in the U.S. Senate that would allow voters to opt into Medicare and criticized Sanders for not saying more about education. However, he also praised Sanders for his consistency and integrity, saying that he disagreed with him at times in the Senate but thought they can work together for solutions in the interests of the American people.
Instead, Bennet saved the majority of his attacks on President Donald Trump, the Tea Party and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on a variety of topics, telling the audience these groups are harming Americans and the Democratic nominee must be able to help Democrats win in red and purple states like he has in Colorado.
Ultimately, Bennet said that McConnell could enact his legislative agenda on “the rubble” of America, and believed that the ongoing divergence of what people believe are facts are damaging the country.
“If we can’t start to establish some baselines about what facts are, our democracy is in trouble,” he said. “When we establish some baselines, we’ll be able to overcome Mitch McConnell and the people who surfed in there on a very undemocratic agenda.”
He added that his opposition to term limits, instead voicing support for lifetime lobbying bans on any former members of Congress and working on anti-gerrymandering efforts.
“If you give the politicians term limits, but you don’t give the lobbyists term limits, you only make the problem worse,” he said. “You need politicians who know how the system works and know what the level of the corruption is.”
In response to a question from a voter on Andrew Yang’s recommendation that Trump not be investigated after leaving office, Bennet said that Trump believed himself to be above the law and that Trump or anyone else cannot be above the law.
Naomi Butterfield of Concord has gone to four Primary events so far this primary season and says that Bennet’s honesty regarding his dyslexia has inspired her daughter, who is also dyslexic.
While she says the event on Monday had some new faces, what wasn’t different on this night was a positive energy she says he brings to his events.
“I think he’s smart and it comes from a deep place of belief,” she said. “He doesn’t memorize stuff and he always takes questions.