UPDATE: Westword’s blog says that Bennet was backing away from the public option on the air, but Polster redstateblues found the quote from the show, and it’s not nearly as damning:
Silverman: “Are you for a public option? Because when it comes to business, I think about the PXs on a military base, and I’ve never been able to shop there because I’m not a member of the military, but I understand they have low prices. How could King Soopers and Safeway compete with a PX?”
Bennet: “Well, I have supported… I do support a public option, and I have supported it. [Pols emphasis] Let me tell you why, and then I’ll answer your question. The reason is, that I have heard so many stories from people all over the state from people who have paid in every single year and then when they needed it or, you know, when their kid got sick, and they needed it, it wasn’t there anymore. And they are really resentful of the fact that somebody earned a profit off that commercial transaction. There are… the weird thing about insurance is that you pay for it way in advance, usually, of when you use it, and there have been a lot of folks who have had terrible experiences with that. I don’t think we should have a subsidized plan that would compete unfairly, as some have said, in the market, but I think a non-subsidized plan that, like I said, doesn’t have the high administrative costs and is available just as a choice–just as an option in the market–I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
We still say that strong support of the public option will be critical for Bennet in a primary battle, but it definitely looks like Westword’s claim that he was “backing away” in this interview is not correct.
Original post after the jump…
We’ve written before in this space that Sen. Michael Bennet and his political advisors erred greatly in trying to make him appear as a centrist while a potential primary challenge from Andrew Romanoff was still looming. Focusing on what Bennet would present to general election voters is great if you know you won’t have a primary, but Romanoff was always the bigger threat to Bennet’s election than any Republican candidates out there.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t appear is if Bennet has learned his lesson. Or maybe nobody told him that Romanoff is running. Westword writes this morning that Bennet was backing away from the “Public Option” piece of health care reform on an appearance on KHOW radio:
Naturally, the topic of healthcare reform was front and center, and Bennet, like so many other members of his party, made it clear that a public option is no longer a make-or-break facet of the plan. Indeed, he said too much attention has been paid to this element, thereby obscuring many of the proposal’s other fine and important aspects. He also used a buzz term we’ll be hearing much more in the coming weeks: “deficit neutral” — meaning that he doesn’t want the final bill to push the nation’s finances any deeper into the red. In truth, there’s no way to say with absolute certainty that this will be the case, since any such determination will be based on projections, estimates and other sorts of guesswork — but it sounds good.
What. Are. You. Doing?
A “public option” is very popular among Democrats, and the more Bennet backs away from this, the bigger an opportunity he presents Romanoff. If we were Romanoff, we’d make certain that affirming support for a public option was one of our main talking points at tomorrow’s campaign kickoff. “Romanoff supports the public option, Bennet doesn’t,” would be a very clear delineation for Democratic voters.