Democratic Senator Michael Bennet predicted that President Barack Obama would win Bennet’s home state of Colorado, one of the most competitive in the presidential race.
“The president’s going to carry Colorado; I think he’s ahead” of Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Bennet said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend.
One of the reasons Obama will carry Colorado is because his “field operation that’s out here is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” Bennet said. “The ground game that the president has in place here is going to be something that the Romney folks just can’t overcome.”
Bennet’s comments may give fuel to the race in Colorado, a state that Obama’s political chief David Plouffe left off the list of competitive states where he said the president was doing well. Plouffe listed New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, and Ohio.
Looking ahead to a post-election congressional session, Bennet said the odds are “50-50” that the U.S. Congress will reach a tax-and-spending deal that would include a down payment on deficit reduction with a framework that would guide a long- term approach. Such an approach would include an increase in revenue and an overhaul of entitlement spending, he said.
Unless Congress acts to avert it, the U.S. faces a so- called fiscal cliff in January, when $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over 10 years will start and taxes will increase. Democrats propose letting the George W. Bush-era tax cuts expire for top earners, while Republicans want spending reductions and insist they won’t raise taxes.
Bennet is part of a bipartisan group of senators who have been meeting to discuss possible solutions to the nation’s growing deficit. The group has discussed reviving a proposal by the leaders of Obama’s failed 2010 deficit-cutting commission to require Congress to act on a long-term plan.
“I hate to be such a coward on this one, but the way I honestly see it is that it’s 50/50,” Bennet said. “There are days I get up and I feel like people are going to come together on this and exercise some leadership. And then there are other days where a variety of things lead me to conclude that we’re going to have to surf over the fiscal cliff in order to put it back together again.”
Bennet said the group of eight senators doesn’t have the backing of the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and that the group would need that for their approach to succeed.
“One of the things we’ve learned over the last months is that this has to be a conversation that includes the leadership at every step of the way, both Democratic and Republican, and we’re having those conversations,” Bennet said.
Bennet also said Democrats must put on the table an overhaul of entitlement programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, while Republicans will have to agree to revenue increases.
Bennet likened the outcome of the presidential race to his run for the Senate in 2010. He said he won his Senate seat by “one vote a precinct.”
“I expect the president will do better than that, because he’s Barack Obama and not Michael Bennet,” he said.
In anticipation of the last presidential debate on foreign policy on Oct. 22, Bennet called on critics of Obama to let the investigation into a Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Libya “sort itself out and figure out the intelligence.” That attack killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
“I actually think that people here don’t understand what that part of the debate — why we’re having that discussion and debate as part of the presidential campaign,” Bennet said.
In the two previous debates, Romney has criticized Obama for the administration’s suggestion soon after the attack that the incident grew out of a spontaneous protest against an offensive anti-Muslim video circulated on YouTube.
Obama and other administration officials have countered that they cited acts of terror from the start and that changing explanations stemmed from evolving intelligence reports.
In an Oct. 16 debate, Obama told Romney the suggestion that “anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive.”