When asked what he's doing in Iowa, the former Denver Public Schools superintendent replied that he was just visiting schools. But U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) is quick to give an honest answer: he's thinking of running for president.
The relatively-unknown politico outside of Colorado told 9NEWS political reporter Marshall Zelinger in a sit-down interview that he definitely feels less well-known in Iowa than he does in Denver.
Though the senator said local Iowans don't have to don thinking caps to figure out who he is, our reporting in the field found no one to have known him before his trip there over the weekend - or, at least, people began learning who Bennet was after his dressing-down of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on the Senate floor.
Bennet said he didn't think he was in Iowa and considering a run for president just because of that floor speech.
"I would have been here anyway," he explained to 9NEWS. "I think it's interesting to see how many people have seen that floor speech, but that's not why I came."
He added that the election of Donald Trump to the presidency helped make his mind up that he might be also that office.
"Well, I think that part of it was the election of Donald Trump and the feeling that we had gone in a very different direction than the one I believe we should be headed in," he explained. "It doesn't have anything to do with Democratic or Republican. It has to do with the progress this country has made over generations to make us more free, more inclusive."
He said he's been contemplating things he didn't think would be up for debate in his lifetime, like the rule of law or the practice of separating migrant children from their families at the border.
"We can't normalize this kind of stuff," he said.
As any presidential hopeful knows, you can't cut class in Iowa and hope to pass the primary election with flying colors - that'd be a schoolboy error. Bennet knows that and told 9NEWS the goal for the weekend was to find out what makes Iowans tick. The first Democratic primary vote is Iowa on Feb. 3, 2020. So, instead of cracking a book, Bennet made the trip to the Hawkeye state to get to know its residents.
"How are they thinking about the world? Where do they think we should be headed?" Bennet said. "And so far, I'm not surprised to learn that people seem to be thinking about the world an awful lot the same as they're thinking about it in Colorado."
For those interested, Bennet said that despite he and former Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper both going to Iowa over the last week - neither one planned to do so. Bennet said he was actually a little excited to reconnect with Hick.
For Bennet, the whole idea of running for president is a little strange. He said it was kind of strange when he realized he might run for president.
"I have to admit," he said, "it's weird to think that you're in a position to be able to consider or contemplate that."
So, has spending the last few days in Iowa helped make up the senator's mind?
"The race is in the future," he told 9NEWS. "There's plenty of time to decide to get in or not. That's not a decision I'm relying on other candidates to make for me. I want to make the right decision for myself."
There is a lot of time between Feb. 24, 2019, and Nov. 3, 2020 - election day. Only time will tell: will this eager beaver prove to be a quick learner on the campaign trail, or will he just get an 'A' for effort?
Sen. Michael Bennet was appointed to Congress after Ken Salazar left the position when then-President Obama appointed him to Secretary of the Interior. He currently serves as the state's senior senator after winning the election outright in 2010. He was born in New Dehli, India while his father served as an aide to the U.S. ambassador to India. He attended Yale Law School and served as a counsel to the Deputy Attorney General during the Clinton administration. He was appointed as superintendent of DPS in 2005. Bennet and his wife were early supporters of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential bid.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS | Next with Kyle Clark