Michael Bennet bets his job on healthcare: Brave or stupid?

A single word from Senator Michael Bennet has simultaneously thrilled his supporters and emboldened critics who think he's might an incredible strategic blunder. That word is "yes."

This weekend, Bennet appeared on CNN's State of the Union program, and when interrogator Jon King asked if he'd still support the current healthcare measure even if "every piece of evidence" suggests that supporting the bill will cost him his job, he answered in the affirmative.

Shortly thereafter, his campaign issued a release citing this response as proof that he's an atypical politician unafraid "to stand-up for what is right. He is willing to take on the special interests who will stop at nothing to protect the status quo."

Sara Sendak, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, had a decidedly different take. In a similarly timed release, she declared that this particular monosyllable "finally made clear that [Bennet's] loyalty to President Obama and Harry Reid is stronger than the needs of his constituents."

That's a lot of spin for one little word. Read on to decide who's more convincing.

The Bennet e-mail:

Dear Friend,

Yesterday morning I saw Senator Michael Bennet on CNN do something few politicians dare to do: answer a question with a one-word answer.

On CNN's "State of the Union," John King asked Michael if he would support health care reform if "every piece of evidence tells you, if you support that bill you will lose your job."

Without hesitation, Michael flatly gave his answer: "Yes."

Michael is not a typical politician -- he's never run for office before, he didn't spend his life angling for the next political opportunity, and he's not afraid to stand-up for what is right. He is willing to take on the special interests who will stop at nothing to protect the status quo.

Michael's willing to push back, to fight and do everything he can to bring the meaningful health care reform that Coloradans need, even if it puts his job at risk. But it doesn't need to be that way.

Watch the video of Michael's response and then contribute to our campaign. Show the media and pundits that you won't allow Michael to lose his seat for supporting health care reform that benefits Colorado.

I've worked with lots of politicians in my career, and that's why I know Michael's candor and leadership are rare qualities. I hope you'll help keep Michael in the U.S. Senate.

Thank you for your support.


Craig Hughes Campaign Manager Bennet for Colorado

P.S. Please forward this message to 5 friends. Urge them to watch the video and support Michael Bennet's campaign.

Republican National Committee e-mail:

All -

I wanted to bring your attention to Senator Bennet's comments this morning that he would vote for a government-takeover of health care despite the needs of Coloradans. If you are reporting on this story, please consider the following Republican National Committee response:

"Senator Bennet has finally made clear that his loyalty to President Obama and Harry Reid is stronger than the needs of his constituents. Coloradans know that this government-run health care experiment is the wrong solution for families and workers. Next year when voters go to the polls, they will remember how quickly Bennet sold them out in order to gain a little more political capital in Washington." -- Sara Sendek, RNC Spokeswoman

State of the Union (CNN): Sen. Michael Bennet

KING: i want to move on to some other issues. as a new senator that's on the ballot next year in a tough state, if you get to the final point and you are a critical vote for health care reform and every piece of evidence tells you, if you support that bill, you will lose your job, would you cast the vote and lose your job?

BENNET: yes.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts