NASHUA, N.H.—Some people respond to being told that they have cancer with tears, or by scaling back plans. Michael Bennet responded to his prostate-cancer diagnosis, announced last week, by planning trips here to New Hampshire and to Iowa on Monday, redoubling his interest in a presidential campaign few observers right now say they see any path for.
The Colorado senator told me that his own health helped persuade him to run, and to lean in on talking about health care. While he hasn’t filed any paperwork yet, Bennet said on Saturday that he is running, unless his treatment produces some sort of bad surprise.
“It’d be a great excuse not to run if I didn’t want to run—this would be the best excuse you could ever have, and from that point of view, it’s been very clarifying, because I haven’t had that feeling at all,” Bennet told me, speaking after an hour-long session with about 30 people at a coffee shop in the center of this small city late Saturday afternoon. “It only underscores how infuriating it is that we have a guy in the White House who’s made a mockery of dealing with the problems in our health-care system.”
Bennet will have surgery at the beginning of the upcoming Senate recess, and he said he’s not thinking much about the diagnosis, thankful to have insurance and optimistic that everything will proceed according to plan. Bennet, Denver’s former superintendent of schools, was appointed to the Senate in 2009 and has twice won the seat, in 2010 and 2016. His brother, James, is a former editor in chief of The Atlantic and the current editorial-page editor of The New York Times. That his cancer was caught despite a lack of symptoms, he said, emphasized to him the importance of screening and preventative medicine.