Obama, likely reacting to polling, endorses Bennet on teleconference

On a town-hall style press conference call Tuesday night, President Barack Obama joined Sen. Michael Bennet to present his reasons Democratic voters should choose the incumbent Democratic senator as their candidate over former state Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff in Tuesday’s primary election.

President Barack Obama in Denver in 2008. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

Obama recalled Bennet’s experience in education and finance, saying the senator had taken the hard votes that made him want Bennet by his side going forward. Romanoff has said he is battling not just Bennet but also the Washington establishment.

“Make sure to go out there guys and cast your ballots for Michael, and I know he will be one of the best senators that Colorado has ever had,” Obama said to a telephone audience.

Obama did not take questions.

Explaining that Bennet has been a breath of fresh air in Washington and a man who bucks the status quo of those who want to be something as opposed to those who want to do something because they care, Obama continued to praise the senator’s skill in Washington and his willingness to take hard votes.

Bennet has become the go-to guy for reforming America’s schools in Congress due to the work he did in Colorado, Obama said, adding the former superintendent of Denver Public Schools has stood up to insurance lobbyists, corporations, credit card companies, and was one of the key lawmakers in passing Wall Street reform.

“Michael has been as good of senator as I expected him to be when I first met him when he was still head of the public schools in Denver,” Obama said.

Obama, who penned Bennet’s conference call into his schedule only Tuesday during the day, referenced recent attack ads against Bennet. Obama said those “were politics as usual, but added that Bennet was not playing politics.”

It seems likely that recent polling showing a near statistical dead heat between Romanoff and Bennet, with the incumbent up only three points, led to the president’s appearance on the call.

During his ballot-drop event on Friday, Romanoff said that he would be willing to stand up against his party if elected. In fact, he said he was doing that by running, explaining Washington did not want him running in the race.

“I am doing that right now by running against the wishes of the Washington establishment,” Romanoff said. “I am not running to represent Washington; I am running to represent the people of Colorado.”

However, Bennet challenged accusations he said Romanoff had made that the president was trying to manipulate the vote in Colorado at a similar ballot dropping event in Northwest Denver. Bennet told supporters that Obama had chosen to support him well before Romanoff entered the race and that his help and endorsement did not constitute manipulation.

“There has been complaining on the other side that the president has somehow been interfering in a Democratic primary,” Bennet said. “The facts are these: I came into the job, the president endorsed me … and then my primary opponent decided to get in the race nine months later. So I don’t think that it is fair for him to say President Obama reached out to interfere in the primary. President Obama reached out to support somebody who is supporting work he is trying to get done in Washington.”

Obama concluded the call saying Bennet had the right insight for the future of America.

“The main reason I am on this call is to make sure that everybody who is listening is thinking not about the next election but the next generation. That is how Michael approaches his job,” Obama said.

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