Minnesotan joins White House race
Running ‘for every American,’ Klobuchar says as she enters Democratic field
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Sunday joined the growing group of Democrats jostling to be president and positioned herself as the most prominent Midwestern candidate in the field.
“For every American, I’m running for you,” she told an exuberant crowd gathered on a freezing, snowy afternoon at a park along the Mississippi River with the Minneapolis skyline in the background.
“And I promise you this: As your president, I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. And no matter what, I’ll lead from the heart,” the three-term senator said.
Klobuchar, who has prided herself for achieving results through bipartisan cooperation, did not utter President Donald Trump’s name during her kickoff speech. But she did bemoan the conduct of “foreign policy by tweet” and said Americans must “stop the fear-mongering and stop the hate. … We all live in the same country of shared dreams.”
And she said that on her first day as president, she would have the U.S. rejoin an international climate agreement from which Trump has withdrawn.
Trump responded to Klobuchar’s announcement with a tweet mocking her stance that global warming is a fact. He wrote that Klobuchar talked proudly “of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Bad timing. By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!”
Klobuchar also spoke of the need to “heal the heart of our democracy and renew our commitment to the common good.”
Asserting Midwestern values, she told a crowd warmed by hot chocolate, apple cider, heat lamps and bonfires: “I don’t have a political machine. I don’t come from money. But what I do have is this: I have grit.”
Klobuchar, who easily won a third term last year, has pointed to her broad appeal across Minnesota as she has discussed a 2020 run. She has said that success could translate to other Midwestern states such as Michigan and Wisconsin, reliably Democratic in presidential races for decades until Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton.
The list of Democrats already in the race features several better-known senators with the ability to raise huge amounts of money — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Klobuchar, 58, is known as a straight-shooting, pragmatist willing to work with Republicans, making her one of the Senate’s most productive members at passing legislation.
The backdrop for her rally was the Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi. The span was built after the previous bridge collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people. Klobuchar had worked with then-Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., to help fund the new bridge and get it completed at a faster-than-usu- al pace.
“We worked across the aisle to get the federal funding and we rebuilt that I-35W bridge — in just over a year. That’s community. That’s a shared story. That’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” she said.
Klobuchar’s focus in recent months has included prescription drug prices, a new farm bill and election security. She supports the “Green New Deal,” a Democratic plan proposed last week to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy.
But her legislative record has drawn criticism from both sides. Some Republicans say Klobuchar is able to get things done because she pushes smaller issues. Some progressives say she lacks the bold ideas needed to excite voters.
Klobuchar on Sunday also responded to reports in BuzzFeed and HuffPost that she has mistreated staff, saying she “can be tough” but has many staff members who have worked for her for many years.
“I can push people. I know that,” she told reporters after the event. “I have, I’d say, high expectations for myself; I have high expectations for the people who work for me. But I have high expectations for this country. And that’s what we need. We need someone who is focused on getting things done for this country.”
Klobuchar, a lawyer and the former prosecutor in Minnesota’s largest county, raised her national profile during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last fall for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
When Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh whether he had ever had so much to drink that he didn’t remember what happened, he turned the question around, asking Klobuchar, “Have you?”
Klobuchar continued as Kavanaugh asked again. Kavanaugh later apologized to Klobuchar, whose father is an alcoholic.
“When you have a parent who’s an alcoholic, you’re pretty careful about drinking,” she said. “I was truly trying to get to the bottom of the facts and the evidence.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced her presidential campaign Sunday in Minneapolis with a speech in which she talked of the need to “heal the heart of our democracy and renew our commitment to the common good.”