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January 13, 2009

Bennet gets strong early reviews

Senator-designate Michael Bennet (D-Colo) is wrapping up a four-day long road trip across Colorado with the state's Gov. Bill Ritter in his first attempt to introduce himself to the state’s voters.

Ritter appointed the politically-untested Bennet to succeed Sen. Ken Salazar, who was tapped as Obama’s Interior Secretary.

Bennet has been getting strong early reviews from both the press and the interested public. He arrived at stops across the state to many packed, standing-only crowds – including in politically-crucial battlegrounds like Fort Collins, Loveland and Pueblo.

“He spoke without notes, talked authoritatively about policy and used his answers to sketch a compelling personal narrative — the last a tried and true political skill that advisers say also will be key as he defines his political persona in the coming months,” the Denver Post’s Michael Riley wrote.

A former Republican county chairman gave Bennet an early rave review.

"He's very bright. He's what I call site-specific. He talked about our downtown here in Loveland," said Bill Kaufman, a former county chairman of the Republican Party who has supported several Democrats in recent elections. "I like him."

He even won over a Colorado Republican blogger (“Republican 36”), who wrote Bennet “has what it takes to be a great U.S. senator and a great campaigner" after hearing him speak.

Many Democratic operatives were skeptical of Ritter’s selection of Bennet, concerned that it would take him time adjusting from his role as Denver school superintendent to becoming a full-time candidate. And while there may be an early honeymoon before he’s sworn in, it appears he’s off to a strong start.