In the aftermath of the death of Iranian General Qassem Souleimani during a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad Thursday, specters of a military conflict with Iran began to dominate the news circuit. On Friday, Colorado Senator and Democratic primary contender Michael Bennet spoke with Morning Edition anchor Joe Mathieu about the specter of a new conflict in the Middle East and the 2020 election.The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have to ask [you] about this news from Iraq. A U.S. airstrike killed Iran's top general, Soleimani, someone we've heard a lot about. Was it the right thing to do? And should the president have consulted Congress first?

Sen. Michael Bennet: Well, I think we're going to have to wait to see what the legal justification for this is over the next few days, if they care to make one, and to understand the imminent threat that they disrupted by doing this. But, I think this was a terribly reckless and provocative act. It's the latest in a long string of non-strategic choices that Donald Trump has made in the Middle East that has weakened our position [there]. That has strengthened Iran's position in the Middle East. You couldn't be more naive to believe that this was going to result somehow in Iran coming to the negotiating table rather than creating the potential for another war, which is the last thing we need in the Middle East.

Mathieu: It's hard to imagine a war with Iran that's been this sort of geopolitical specter that's been hanging out there for a generation.

Bennet: Well, we better be prepared for it if we're going to do it. You know, Donald Trump tweeted today that, Iran has never won a war, but Iran has never lost negotiations, which is an absurd trope from his commercial real estate days. But our own war college said in their 2000 page report that the winner of our last Iraq war was Iran because it allowed them to open up their range of influence from Yemen to southern Iraq. Now to northern Iraq into Syria because President Trump abandoned the Kurds in northern Syria and to reinforce what they're doing in Lebanon with Hezbollah. We can't do more of this. We spent $5.6 trillion dollars over the last 20 years to fight two wars in the Middle East that didn't result in any of the outcomes that the American people were promised.

Mathieu: So you want to be the president. What happens if you inherit this? What do you do?

Bennet I think what you've got to do is rebuild our alliances all over the world. In the Middle East we have to rebuild the alliances that gave us the Iran nuclear deal which for once was an attempt to manage a situation in the Middle East instead of going to a war with it. We need to rebuild our alliances so that we actually can deal with this nuclear threat in North Korea. That President Trump for three years has given Kim cover by saying, "I'm in love with Kim. We write each other love letters. America, you can sleep easy," when everybody in America or every one of our intelligence agencies knew that he wasn't he was continuing on his nuclear program full speed. We need to restore our alliances so that we can defend against Russia who's trying to destroy Western democracy in Europe and here in the United States. So and we've got a lot to do in our hemisphere because we've got to deal with the refugee crisis at our borders so the sooner we can move Donald Trump along. I think the sooner we'll be moving out of the Oval Office, the weakest foreign policy president we've had in my lifetime.

Mathie:u Do you hear about this in New Hampshire or anywhere else you're running, for that matter, to people say, "Hey, I'm I'm worried about this thing with Russia or with the Middle East. I don't want my sons or daughters to go to war?" Or is it really domestic issues that people are taking your ear on?

Bennet: It's such a great question. If I had to summarize 10 years of town halls in my swing state of Colorado, it's no different than what I'm hearing in New Hampshire: "Michael, we're killing ourselves, but we can't afford some combination of housing, health care, higher education, early childhood education. We can't live a middle class life. We can't save. Our kids are going to live a more diminished life than we lived and maybe even that our parents live." That's the sort of number one thrust. But the two other things you hear about are climate change, because people are deeply worried about that. And "What are you going to do, Michael Bennett, to restore our alliances when you become president?" They know what President Trump has jeopardized and it comes up in every single one of the town halls. I don't want to suggest that it's a dominant theme, but it comes up in every single one.

Mathieu: You just basically described the 'Real Deal' as your calling it, which is not to be confused with a 'Green New Deal'. This is a broad, comprehensive proposal. It's basically your campaign platform.

Bennet: Right. It comes out of not just my time in the Senate and what I've heard in those town halls but also the fact that I was a urban school superintendent of a school district, Denver, 95,000 kids, mostly kids of color, mostly kids living in poverty. And they'd say a similar thing. They'd say, "we're killing ourselves and we can't get our kids out of poverty." America can do something about that. We can pass the 'Real Deal', which dramatically increases the child tax credit and dramatically increases the earned income tax credit [and] gives the middle class in this country a shot in the arm that they haven't had in 50 years.

And I think my plan actually will do more for working people and do more for the working class and for the middle class than any other plan that any presidential candidate is proposing. Some people say, "Well, Michael, when you say that, what about Bernie [Sanders]? What about Elizabeth [Warren]?" And my answer is: Elizabeth's proposed $41 trillion more in spending. Bernie's proposed $55 trillion more in spending. That's far more than the federal government's going to spend as it is over the next 10 years. That's not going to happen. I do not want to fight a losing battle on Medicare for all when we could pass the 'Real Deal' and make a transformative difference in the lives of middle class people in this country.

Mathieu: Your price tag is significantly lower than theirs. You're framing yourself this morning, for people in New Hampshire listening as essentially a moderate alternative to Joe Biden. No?

Bennet: Well, I'd say that actually my price tag is about $6 trillion dollars [and] unlike Bernie and Elizabeth, I show how we pay for that. e don't raise taxes on working people making $29 thousand dollars, which Bernie Sanders does. But it's far more progressive than what Joe Biden has proposed in this campaign.

Mathieu: Are you the candidate beteen them?

Bennet: I think I am. It's far more progressive than what Mayor Pete has proposed and others in the campaign. So, I hope people will go to and take a look at it. What I'm trying to do is respond to the 10 years of town halls where I've heard people say, 'this is what we need.' That's what I'm trying to respond to substantively and politically, you know, we can't enact any of this stuff if we can't win purple states like Colorado. If we can't, not just win the presidency, but win the Senate as well. I think I can run on this plan. In red parts of the country and blue parts of the country and win. So, I think that's better than another press release that over promises and under deliver.

Mathieu: Are you concerned about a Senate trial, an impeachment trial taking place at the same time as the New Hampshire primary? Is that a possibility?

Bennet: That's a distinct possibility. It's a likelihood. And there's nothing I can do about it. So I choose not to worry about it. I'll be in D.C. to fulfill my constitutional responsibility and then get back to continue my 50 town hall.