PORTSMOUTH — Democratic presidential candidate and two-term U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado will be the second to take part in a series of presidential candidate forums on the health and growth of the U.S. economy.
“Everywhere I go, I hear from people who are working incredibly hard, but still can’t afford a good middle-class life,” said Bennet, who will take part in a forum on Wednesday.
“We need to invest in and empower America’s workers and make work pay once again. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to speak with Granite Staters about how we can put workers first and build economic security and opportunity for all — especially the 70% of Americans without a four-year college degree.”
This forum will begin at 1 p.m. on the campus of Great Bay Community College on Corporate Drive in Portsmouth.
The New Hampshire Union Leader, the Community College System of New Hampshire, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses are cosponsors of the series.
“New Hampshire’s community colleges are pleased to continue to provide opportunities for NH voters to hear from candidates for the presidency,” said CCSNH Chancellor Ross Gittell. “As strong supporters of the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary and role in American politics, we encourage students and members of the public to participate in these forums and we look forward to welcoming candidates to our campuses across the state. We’re pleased to partner with the New Hampshire Union Leader and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses on this forum series.”
Bennet is expected to bring up his “Plan to Reward Hard Work” that would put $500 billion federal dollars over 10 years toward high-quality training such as registered apprenticeships to connect worker skills with local demand.
The plan calls for expanding both the child care and earned income tax credits, raising the federal minimum wage and adopting a paid family and medical leave law for the entire country.
Bennet said his plan also would empower workers by better protecting collective bargaining rights and by getting the federal government to crack down harder on corporate abuses.
Bennet turns 55 next month.
He was one of the last major candidates to enter the 2020 presidential race last May.
Bennet will appear at the forum the day after the fourth Democratic debate in Westerville, Ohio, where Bennet is not one of the 12 qualified candidates because he failed to achieve fundraising and polling benchmarks.
During a three-day visit to New Hampshire last week, Bennet continued to stake out his place in the race as one of the more moderate hopefuls.
He criticized as unaffordable the Medicare for All, single-payer health plan that Democratic rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been championing on the campaign trail.
Bennet supports permitting Americans to choose a public option while allowing them to stay in private insurance plans to their liking.
The forum series underlines the state’s major role in the nomination process, said Brendan McQuaid, president of the Union Leader.
“New Hampshire serves a crucial role in the nominating process as one of the few venues for true retail politics. The New Hampshire Union Leader is proud to support these events for voters to meet candidates face to face,” McQuaid said. “These opportunities help New Hampshire voters, like our readers, to stay among the best informed in the nation.”
David Solomon, retired state house bureau chief with the Union Leader, is serving as a moderator of the forum series.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., appeared last month at Manchester Community College in the first installment of this series.
Katherine Jollon Colsher, national director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, said all candidates need to present an agenda that appeals to independently-minded job creators.
“Small business owners are vital to the American economy, employing nearly 50 percent of the workforce and creating two thirds of all new jobs,” Colsher said. “This forum will include the perspective of these entrepreneurs, which we believe is crucial to setting economic policies that benefit all Americans. We look forward to the discussion, incorporating the perspectives of small business owners, and are pleased to support this series that we hope will benefit New Hampshire residents from across the state.”
Bennet first came to the Senate in 2009 when Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter appointed him to the seat after Sen. Ken Salazar stepped down to become President Barack Obama’s Secretary of the Interior.
Bennet went on to win election to two full Senate terms in 2010 and 2016.
After graduating from Yale Law School, Bennet worked as a law clerk and counsel to the deputy U.S. attorney general in the Clinton administration.
He also served as chief of staff to Denver Mayor and former 2020 presidential rival John Hickenlooper and became Denver’s superintendent of schools.
Bennet emerged as a potential presidential candidate last January after he gave a fiery floor speech condemning 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz about a federal government shutdown.
While in the Senate, Bennet cosponsored bipartisan immigration reform legislation, was regarded as a Senate expert on education and was one of the few Democrats who supported building the Keystone XL Pipeline.
He comes from a family with plenty of political pedigree.
His father, Douglas Joseph Bennet Jr., ran the U.S. Agency for International Development under President Jimmy Carter and later became president and CEO of National Public Radio.
Bennet’s grandfather, Douglas Joseph Bennet Sr., was an economic adviser in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration.
Bennet and his wife, Susan Diane Daggett, have three children.