Longshot White House candidate Michael Bennet – the senior U.S. senator from Colorado – drew criticism following Thursday’s second Democratic debate for asserting that Russia, not China, posed a greater foreign threat to the United States.
“Because of what they’ve done with our election,” Bennet argued, according to the Colorado Sun of Denver.
Joining Bennet on the debate stage in Miami were nine other candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California.
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Prior to the release of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his Russia investigation, Bennet was a vocal in asserting that Russia worked to affect the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“It’s obvious and clear to almost everybody who’s observing this that the Russians were working hard to figure out how to elect Donald Trump and defeat Hillary Clinton and made us vulnerable to their dastardly tactics,” Bennet said in January, according to Boston’s WBUR radio. “And we need to make sure that doesn’t happen again in 2020.”
But the Mueller report, submitted to Attorney General William Barr on March 22 and released in redacted form to the public April 18, included no proof of collusion, Barr said.
Fox contributor Mollie Hemingway, a senior editor at the Federalist, called Bennet’s analysis of Russia posing a greater threat than China “embarrassing.”
Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review called Bennet’s stance, “more reflective of current Democratic passions than a cool assessment of our situation.”
Liberal observers were more sympathetic to Bennet’s view. Eric Sondermann, a Denver political analyst, asserted that if Bennet’s campaign hadn’t been delayed by a cancer diagnosis, he “could have been the Mayor Pete of this campaign.”
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Bennet did say that President Trump has been “right to push back” against China’s trade policies, “but has done it in completely the wrong way,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
If elected, Bennet said, he would “mobilize the entire rest of the world” to put pressure on China.
“We need to track down on Chinese malfeasance, but the trade wars are the wrong way to go,” Bennet said, according to the Journal.