Senator Michael Bennet visited Leadville Saturday for a town hall meeting, the fourth in a series of similar stops across the state marking his return to Colorado after his run for president. He had previously attended town hall meetings in Grand Junction, Rangely, Meeker, and Craig.
A crowd of locals met Bennet at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum where he welcomed all and thanked the hosts, commenting on how much busier Leadville had gotten since his last visit.
After a brief description of his time in office and short-lived presidential campaign, Bennet explained wanting to engage in town-hall-style meetings to hear what concerns people in the state.
Bennet fielded questions from attendees, with subjects ranging from concerns on behalf of the retired community in Colorado, student debt, health care, climate change, and whom he supports for the Democratic presidential candidate.
“I have not decided which candidate I’m going to support. I want us to pick somebody who can freaking beat Donald Trump,” Bennet said when asked whom he endorsed for president.
“This is a meeting of all people,” Bennet followed. “So if there are people here that support the president, I’m happy that you’re here and I want to have a conversation with you about your support or my disagreement with the president,” Bennet said.
Bennet talked of his record of bipartisanship and suggested balance as a way to re-establish unity.
“This state is almost exactly a third Democratic, a third Republican, and a third Independent, and I actually think this state is right where the American people are, where we need to be in order to move the country forward in a unified way,” Bennet said.
A consistent theme among people who have attended the town hall meetings is a concern for the state of democracy in this country, Bennet said.
“You should worry about our democracy,” he said.
Bennet, citing the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus movements of the 2010s, said during his entire time in office, the exercise in self-government has been disabled.
Bennet lamented the inability to create solutions that last beyond administrations, emphasizing the need for urgent and durable measures through a combination of bolstering public education, unifying the Democratic party, and increasing voter turnout as measures to take to re-stabilize democracy in the U.S.
“I think this is a moment when we will all be judged about whether or not we stood up for the democracy and we stood up for the constitution, or whether we didn’t. I mean all of us, I don’t just mean our elected officials,” Bennet said.