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I’m not sure what I expected Sen. Michael Bennet’s answer to be when I asked him why he was running for president. I didn’t expect it to be “Mitch McConnell.”

Since arriving in the Senate in 2009, Bennet has built a reputation as a senator’s senator. He’s smart and measured, thoughtful on policy, and good at working across the aisle. I’ve had colleagues of his tell me they wish he’d run for president, that he’s the kind of guy the country needs. But Bennet’s been radicalized. He believes America’s government is broken.

So what happens when you radicalize a moderate? How far will an institutionalist go to save the institutions he loves? And at what point do you decide the problem is inside the institutions themselves?

That’s the conversation, and at times argument, Bennet and I have in this podcast, and it’s an important one. His critique is angry and sweeping. But are his solutions as big as the problem he identifies? We also talk about his plan to end extreme childhood poverty, which I think is one of the most important proposals in the race, his view that rural America is the key to passing climate legislation, why he opposes Medicare-for-all, what to do about the filibuster, and much more.

Book recommendations:
There Will Be No Miracles Here: A Memoir by Casey Gerald
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore

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