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Michael Bennet’s Cancer Diagnosis Won’t Deter 2020 Campaign

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Bennet said his conversation with voters at the coffee shop reinforced why he reintroduced his Medicare-X bill, which provides a Medicare option. But unlike the Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All bill that has become popular in the Democratic primary field, his plan would not eliminate all private insurance.

That, Bennet said, would be the wrong way to go. But for whatever internal disagreements Democrats may have over a plan, he added, at least the debate makes clear that his party is for helping people with health care and the Republicans are not. The GOP solution, he said, is “just a bunch of gibberish.”

He’s clearly been paying attention to the dynamics of the primary race, though. At one point at the coffee shop, Bennet jumped up on a bench and waved his hands for a few seconds, imitating the stand-on-things-and-gesticulate stumping style of Beto O’Rourke that has become an internet meme and a running joke among several Democratic candidates.

As for how the cancer is affecting  his presidential run, Bennet acknowledged that it’s slowed him down, and may get in the way of his making the stage for the first Democratic debates at the end of June, for which candidates need to meet a minimum threshold of 1 percent in polling or having 65,000 donors.

“We won’t have to stop. We’re going to continue to talk to staff,” Bennet said. “At some point it could have an effect on whether we get to the debate stage or not, but I think we have a good chance to get there.”

At the direction of the White House chief of staff, the Justice Department has now signed onto a lawsuit filed by Republican states to repeal Obamacare in its entirety. Trump himself as recently as 11 days ago was promising a new health care plan, saying the GOP would soon be known as the party of great health care, though he pulled back from that after opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Now, he says he’s delaying releasing a new health care plan until after the 2020 election, even as his  chief of staff held meetings over the weekend to continue exploring how to move forward and try to come up with the replacement to Obamacare that Republicans have been promising for almost a decade without ever coming up with more than a slogan.

Bennet says he’s eager to take that on the principle of fighting partisan gridlock and restoring functional government, which is  at the heart of the campaign he wants to run. And now he’s got a more personal stake in the health care debate. “When you have something like this, it seems even more outrageous,” Bennet told me, referring to Trump’s recent gyrations on health care. “But it’s not like I have to look very far to find people in my state whose lives are being turned upside down because of the unpredictable nature of Donald Trump’s lack of health care policy.”

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