Colorado History

On Presidents' Day, Two Coloradans Eyeing the White House

John Hickenlooper's looking at a run for president.
John Hickenlooper's looking at a run for president.
This Presidents' Day marks the first time in more than three decades that two Coloradans are contemplating a run for least publicly.

Back in 1987, Gary Hart was the frontrunner in race to become the Democratic nominee for president (the Colorado senator had made a bid in 1984, too), when his campaign got sunk by the Monkey Business, the Florida excursion boat where he was photographed with Donna Rice on his lap.

In the wake of more revelations in the Washington Post in May 1987, Hart left the race. Although he briefly resurrected his campaign that December, he dropped out in early 1988 after a disappointing finish in New Hampshire.

After Hart dropped out (the first time), U.S. Representative Pat Schroeder declared that she was considering a run for president, but on September 28, 1987, the longtime Denver Democrat announced that she had decided not to go for the Democratic nomination. "This summer, I set out to see if it was too late to mount a campaign. Not a symbolic campaign, but for the presidency of the United States," she said. "I wanted America to see me as a candidate for president who was a woman, rather than a woman candidate...but at this point, I don't see it today."

Today, of course, several Democrats who happen to be women have already announced they are running for president.

National Enquirer
And two Coloradans (male) are also taking a look.

In early December, reports emerged that Senator Michael Bennet was evaluating a run for president, an interest he discussed on Meet the Press on February 10, just two weeks after Bennet's Senate-floor spanking of Senator Ted Cruz went viral.

"I think that I've got a different set of experiences than the other folks in the race, many of whom are my friends and people that I like," Bennet told Chuck Todd. "But I spent time in business and time as a school superintendent before I was in the, in the job that I'm in now. As I sit, or when I sit on the Senate floor, I often think about what I'm hearing through the lens of the kids that I used to work for in the Denver public schools. And the agenda that I hear has very little to do with them, very little to do with their future, very little to do with the next generation's future in America. So I think we have an opportunity to have a presidential campaign, you know, we've got a million people that are going to run, which I think is great, we have to do it. And I think having one more voice in that conversation that's focused on America's future, I don't think would hurt."

Bennet, who'll be traveling to Iowa this week to test the waters, got an unexpected boost from former Republican representative Joe Scarborough, today the host of Morning Joe on MSNBC, who published a column in the Washington Post on February 16 titled "Michael Bennet could be the answer to the question every Democrat is asking."

This past fall, another Coloradan eyeing the presidency, now former governor John Hickenlooper, was already getting headlines in the national press. "The opposite of Trump isn't Bernie Sanders. It's this guy," wrote Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post last fall, when Hickenlooper set up his Giddy Up leadership PAC.

Hickenlooper's been evaluating a run ever since, and promises a decision in the next few months. In the meantime, after recent visits to South Carolina and New Hampshire, he was in Germany this past weekend at the Munich Security Conference, delivering an address on global trade and the future of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, an appearance that garnered more attention from the Post. "Of the likely candidates, the only two who showed up at the conference were Biden and John Hickenlooper, the former two-term governor of Colorado," the paper reported. "Like Biden, Hickenlooper is positioning himself as a pragmatic problem-solver, rather than an ideologically pure progressive. Although the former mayor and brewery owner played a lower key role here in recent days than the former vice president, Hickenlooper was active behind the scenes, meeting with allied diplomats and other officials."

During his two terms as Colorado governor, Hickenlooper set up the National Cybersecurity Center, a first-of-its-kind partnership between the military, universities, the private sector and the federal government.

Sounds very presidential.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun