Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Michael Bennet spoke to a small crowd at Cafe Diem, during a short stop in Ames on Saturday.
Bennet, who was at the Main Street business for around 30 minutes starting at 12:30 p.m., is working to build on the momentum he created in his most recent debate appearance.
Among the crowd was Betsy West, of Ames, who said she found Bennet’s debate performance “interesting.”
“While he has not been on my shortlist, I decided I wanted to give him another chance,” she said. “I don’t know that much about his stance on issues. I heard him as very thoughtful and he was responding in a good, thoughtful way. I’m guessing his stand on most issues is within my comfort zone.”
As this will be her first time living in Iowa during the caucus, held on Feb. 3, West said she wanted to take advantage of seeing all of the candidates as they pass through the area.
“It seems important to take advantage of that opportunity,” she said. “I like kind of like to ear things first hand when I can, which is why I spent six hours last week listening to every minute of the debates.”
Bennet spent the majority of his time in Ames talking about income inequality and education. He said the nation’s current education system is “reinforcing that income inequality rather than liberating people from it.”
“We have to change that as a country. That is a massive head wound that we have for the U.S. right now.” Bennet said. “It was not always true. There was a time that education was the wind on our back, transforming our economy.”
Bennet also touted his American Family Act, a policy initiative that would expand the Child Tax Credit for low and middle-income families, and his desire to lift people out of poverty. According to Bennet, citing the need for universal healthcare, it fundamentally comes down to resources.
After Bennet’s short visit concluded, his wife, Susan Bennet, took questions from the crowd. She addressed topics including the history of how Bennet got into public service, what she would focus on as first lady and Bennet’s stance on women’s health.
Bennet became the second democratic presidential candidate to speak at the Ames cafe on Saturday, after Tom Steyer held a 9 a.m. meet-and-greet. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also stopped at Cafe Diem at 6 p.m. Saturday night.
West said she has appreciated that so many different candidates are visiting the community.
“For us, as society, it’s incredibly helpful,” West said. “It forces the frontrunners to perhaps consider a little more broader horizon than they would have otherwise.”
Bennett has yet to qualify for the fall debates, and he has until Aug. 28 to get four polls with two percent of the vote and 130,000 donors.