Sen. Michael Bennet revealed on Wednesday he’s been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will have surgery during the congressional recess that begins on April 11.
The Colorado Democrat said in a statement that he was diagnosed in March and called himself “fortunate” that the cancer was detected early. He said his prognosis “good.”
“The work we have in front of us to restore a politics that is worthy of our kids and grandkids has never been more important,” he said in the statement. “This unanticipated hurdle only reinforces how strongly I feel about contributing to the larger conversation about the future of our country, and I am even more committed to drive that conversation in a positive direction.”
Bennet, who has teased a presidential bid for months, told the Colorado Independent – the outlet that broke the news – that he remains committed to running for president if he will be cancer free.
“The idea was to announce sometime in April,” Bennet told the outlet. “That was the plan. We hired some staff. We interviewed people for positions in New Hampshire and Iowa. And then I went for the physical. In my last physical, my PSA (a protein produced by the prostate) was high. They did a biopsy, and it was clear. But this time, it was not clear.”
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, both of whom would be Bennet’s 2020 opponents if he ran, reacted to the news of Bennet’s cancer diagnosis.
Klobuchar called her friend in the Senate a “fierce fighter” and Hickenlooper, who had Bennet as a chief of staff when he was mayor of Denver, said he’s “relieved that they discovered the cancer so early, and that Michael has such a good prognosis.”
Bennet traveled to Iowa in February and visited New Hampshire in March. He announced on Wednesday that he was making his second trip to New Hampshire this weekend.
Bennet was setting up to run a campaign focused on the dysfunction in Washington, anchored by an explosive speech he gave on the floor of the United States Senate where he excoriated Sen. Ted Cruz for worrying about a government shutdown considering the Texas Republican once used the same tactic.
“It is just one speech, but it does give me a sense that there are people who are open to that message and there are people who just don’t want to accept such a profoundly pitiful notion of what our government could accomplish,” he told CNN during his February trip to Iowa.
Bennet told CNN he was aware entering the race would make him one of over a dozen Democrats vying to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.
“I’m not sure it’s about something missing. I think it just happens to be a moment in history when we’re going to have a billion people on our side and I think that’s good,” Bennet said. “I think it was a tragedy for us to lose to Donald Trump – unconscionable that we lost to Donald Trump. We’ve got to find a way back from there, not just to win, but to govern the country as well.”