Colorado's U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is nearing a decision whether to mount a bid for the White House following a campaign swing through New Hampshire, the Democrat's chief strategist told Colorado Politics.
"We had a very encouraging trip to New Hampshire on the heels of a great trip to Iowa," said Craig Hughes, who on Friday accompanied Bennet on a four-city tour of the state scheduled to hold the nation's first presidential primary in February.
"I think we'll move towards a decision in the near future."
Hughes refused to "put a time on it," but Bennet told a New Hampshire newspaper Friday that he intends to decide in "weeks, not months." He added that he's inclined toward running.
The 54-year-old senator has been publicly weighing whether to join the rapidly growing Democratic presidential primary field for months, saying he believes there's room for a candidate with his experience in business and as a schools superintendent.
The likelihood got a boost in late January when a video of Bennet blasting the federal shutdown in a speech on the Senate floor drew national attention, racking up millions of views online and spurring calls for a Bennet candidacy.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper this week became the 14th Democrat in a field of candidates who have launched campaigns or are formally exploring bids. Another half dozen are considering getting in.
Following an official announcement March 4, Hickenlooper held a send-off rally in Denver March 7 and embarked on a two-day tour of Iowa over the weekend. (Colorado Politics' Marianne Goodland reported on Hickenlooper's Iowa tour here and here.)
Hughes said Saturday that the results of a new Des Moines Register/CNN poll showing Bennet with the support of 1 percent of likely Iowa caucus-goers was a good sign.
"We're one-third of the way to getting into the DNC-sponsored debates, and we haven't even announced yet," he said. "It's encouraging news even if it's a rounding error."
Bennet finished in ninth place in the poll, which was dominated by former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who were the first choice of 27 and 25 percent of those polled, respectively.
Also polling ahead of Bennet were Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.
According to the poll's ranking system, Bennet came in ahead of Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who was also the first choice of 1 percent of caucus-goers and, like Bennet, was the second choice of 1 percent.
Hickenlooper didn't crack 1 percent support, coming in 16th place in the survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
The Democratic National Committee announced last month a set of polling and fundraising benchmarks candidates must meet in order to land one of 20 spots on stage at televised primary debates planned for June and July.
In order to qualify, candidates must either receive at least 1 percent support in three DNC-sanctioned polls or meet certain grassroots fundraising requirements, including receiving campaign contributions from at least 65,000 individual donors and having at least 200 unique donors in at least 20 states.
If more than 20 candidates satisfy one of the measures, the DNC said, candidates who meet both standards will be prioritized.