Updated on July 9, 2024 at 9:53 PM.

Sen. Michael Bennet told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Tuesday night that he believes President Joe Biden cannot win the November general election.

“I just think this race is on a trajectory that is very worrisome if you care about the future of this country,” Bennet said. “Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election and perhaps by a landslide and take the Senate and the House of Representatives with him.”

While concerns about Biden’s candidacy have been mounting in Democratic circles since the president’s disastrous debate performance last month, Bennet is the first Democratic senator to make such a public statement.

Bennet noted that Biden currently leads former President Donald Trump by five points in the 2020 race. Current national polls have Trump averaging a 2 percentage point lead, according to the tracking website 538.

“For me, this is not a polling issue, this is not a political issue. This is a moral issue about the future of our country,” Bennet said. “And I think it’s critically important that we realize what we’re going to face if we put this country together on the path to re-electing Donald Trump.”

CNN also reported that Bennet was one of three Democratic senators, along with Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who expressed similar doubts about Biden’s candidacy during a caucus lunch earlier on Tuesday.

Bennet appeared to push back against pundits and fellow Democrats “who think this is going to work itself out, when it’s just a contrast between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.” He suggested that it won’t.

“If we just sit still, if we say we are ignoring the situation that is clearly before us — and clearly before the American people — and we end up re-electing Donald Trump as president of the United States, that will be a tragedy beyond all proportion,” Bennet told Collins.

“I can’t live with it,” he said.

However, Bennet did not call on Biden to withdraw from the race.

“This is something the president has to think about,” he said. “I can understand how difficult it would be, if I were Joe Biden, to sit there and say to myself, after all that I’ve worked for, after all that I’ve accomplished, after all the extraordinary public service that I’ve provided to the American people … you’re going into the race of your life with someone you can’t beat.”

“I think it’s very hard for the people who work for him to acknowledge,” Bennet said. “I think they have a moral obligation to look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘We know we can win this race.'”

Biden’s campaign responded to Bennet’s comments Tuesday night by reiterating the president’s commitment to defeating Trump

“This was going to be a close race anyway, and the dynamics at play now are the ones we’ve long expected: Voters remain deeply concerned about Donald Trump and his damaging agenda, and the more we reach out to voters, the more they support President Biden,” campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz said in a statement.

The White House announced late Tuesday night that Biden would meet virtually with the Democratic Mayors Association to discuss the 2024 election. The group’s leadership later released a statement supporting the president.

Bennet’s colleagues in the Colorado delegation were more tempered in their remarks after Tuesday’s Democratic caucus meetings.

Senator John Hickenlooper declined to comment on the race.

“If you’re trying to get me to decide whether he should continue his campaign, I will collectively avoid answering the question, simply because it’s a process of really listening right now,” Hickenlooper told the Washington Examiner.

Joe Biden, Michael Bennet

Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

President Joe Biden speaks with Sen. Michael Bennet at Camp Hale near Leadville, Colo., Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. Bennet became the first Democratic U.S. senator to say publicly that Biden cannot defeat Trump this fall.

Leaving the House Democrats’ meeting, first-term Rep. Brittany Pettersen said, “We’re united to make sure we defeat Trump.” But she acknowledged that people had different views on what that would look like going forward.

She added that House members had had “a serious conversation” and that many perspectives were heard.

Rep. Diana DeGette rushed from the caucus meeting to attend a signing ceremony at the White House for legislation that included her bill to transform and modernize nuclear energy production and workforce. She issued a statement afterward describing a policy conversation she had with the president following the signing.

“Throughout the ceremony and this conversation, President Biden demonstrated his clear understanding of the issues and the same humor and energy that I have seen during our nearly 30-year working relationship,” DeGette said in the statement. “I am proud to have such an incredible ally and champion for the American people in the White House, and I look forward to working with President Biden on behalf of my constituents and the American people.”

CPR’s Caitlyn Kim contributed to this story.