On Wednesday, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet confirmed what many have speculated for months: He plans to run for president. But after a recent diagnosis of prostate cancer, Bennet said he will put an official announcement on hold until he undergoes surgery later this month.
“While hearing news like this is never easy, I am fortunate it was detected early, and as a result, my prognosis is good,” Bennet said in a statement. “During the upcoming Senate recess, I will have surgery in Colorado and return to work following a brief recovery.”
Bennet broke the news to the Colorado Independent on Wednesday, calling the diagnosis “a brief healthcare speedbump” on his path to a White House run. Bennet, age 54, said doctors recommended surgery to remove his prostate gland as his best course of action. “I’d be recuperating for 7-10 days and would need some rest after that,” he told the Independent. “The hope is then I’ll be cancer-free and able to move on. If I’m not cancer free, then I’d have to make another decision.”
Bennet has joined the campaign trail in Iowa and is keeping his plans to head to New Hampshire this weekend. Bennet would be the second Coloradan to join the 2020 presidential race, after former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper launched his campaign in March.
Bennet’s news provides an additional lens for Congressional healthcare reforms he announced this week. On Tuesday, Bennet announced a new bill with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) to reintroduce Medicare X, a public insurance option for Medicare that would enable people of any age to buy plans. “It is a disgrace that people’s lives are upended daily in our country because they have no health insurance,” Bennet said in a press release. “We need to cover everyone, reduce costs, and improve quality—and Medicare X is the best way to accomplish those objectives.”
On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously passed the ACE Kids Act, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Bennet and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to enable hospitals to coordinate care for children with complex medical conditions. The House of Representatives approved the bill last week.
Bennet has been growing increasingly frustrated by Congressional dysfunction—a key issue he hopes to address in his presidential campaign. He reached a personal tipping point in January, when his viral takedown of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on the Senate floor during a government shutdown broke C-SPAN records. “I just felt that I couldn’t be silent,” he told 5280 in a recent interview.
This week, Bennet made another impassioned speech ahead of a vote by Senate Republicans to deploy a “nuclear option” that will change senate rules to drastically slash debate time for many of President Trump’s judicial and executive branch nominees. “Today’s votes will represent the latest degradation of the Senate’s responsibility to advice and consent,” Bennet said in his speech. “The partisan temper that is destroying this place needs to come to an end. And we need to make sure that between now and whenever that happens, we don’t take down the rest of government with us.”
Bennet said his cancer diagnosis only increases his commitment to reforming politics for future generations: “The work we have in front of us to restore a politics that is worthy of our kids and grandkids has never been more important,” his statement concluded. “This unanticipated hurdle only reinforces how strongly I feel about contributing to the larger conversation about the future of our country, and I am even more committed to drive that conversation in a positive direction.”