Bennet’s bus tour rolls into Eagle | VailDaily.com

Bennet’s bus tour rolls into Eagle

Pam Boyd | pboyd@eaglevalleyenterprise.com

EAGLE, Colorado – Sen. Michael Bennet’s “Fight of Colorado’s Future” statewide tour rolled into Eagle Tuesday, featuring the kind of low-key conversation that Bennet says he wants to be known for.

A small crowd gathered at the Hitching Post Bed and Breakfast in Eagle Tuesday afternoon for a short meet-and-greet with Bennet. His visit was touted as an opportunity to talk with him about his commitment to help small businesses weather this difficult economic time.

Bennet is facing a challenge in the August Democratic primary from former Colorado Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff.

“Eighty percent of the jobs that will pull us out of this recession will be in small businesses,” Bennet said.

However, Bennet said, it is now harder than ever to launch a new enterprise.

“If small businesses can’t borrow money, they can’t expand and hire people,” he said.

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When asked what Washington can do to help small businesses, Bennet noted that it is a complex problem that requires a fundamental shift how Americans think and act.

“We need to build an economy based on investment and savings rather than leveraging and credit card debt,” he said.

Bennet said Washington’s efforts could be aided with a regulatory framework that provides an outline for banks, businesses and the federal government to systematically determine what differentiates a good loan from a bad one. He noted it was an old-school idea, but the government needs to sit down with the balance sheets from banks that made bad loans and determine what went wrong and how to avoid the same mistakes.

Bennet pledged to work hard on the behalf of small-business operators and earned kudos from a pair of Eagle County residents who fit that description.

Shane Dickman of High Country Kombucha, a local tea manufacturing operation that employs about 30 people, praised the efforts of Colorado’s senator. Dickman said his business is on the cusp of expansion and that’s why he supports Bennet.

“We really need people like Michael Bennet looking out for us,” he said.

Eagle resident Susie Kincaid echoed that sentiment and said she became a Bennet fan last year during a contentious Town Hall meeting in Edwards. She said Bennet walked into a charged room and masterfully handled the crowd by listening to concerns and giving great explanations.

“I didn’t hold one Town Hall meeting in 18 months that any self-respecting cable news producer would put on the air,” Bennet said with a laugh. He characterized himself as a person who is committed to solving problems rather than someone who is interested in contributing to the nation’s highly polarized political debate.

Bennet said the last couple of days of his tour of the state, which has included not only his staff but also his family – wife Susan and their three girls, Caroline, Halina and Anne – has given him a unique perspective; squabbling during family car trips, he said, has actually provided him with some unexpected work training.

“Never did I think it would be preparing me for life in the U.S. Senate, but it has,” said Bennet.

Eighteen months ago, Bennet was appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter to fill the vacancy created when former Sen. Ken Salazar was appointed secretary of the interior by President Obama.