Dems’ 2020 field now in­cludes Min­nesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE -

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — 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, as her party tries to win back vot­ers in a re­gion that helped put Don­ald Trump in the White House.

“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 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 that Trump has with­drawn from.

Trump re­sponded to Klobuchar’s an­nounce­ment with a tweet mock­ing her stance on global warm­ing, a phe­nom­e­non he has dis­puted in the past. 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)!” Trump of­ten over­looks ev­i­dence of record global warm­ing and con­flates cold spells and other in­ci­dents of weather with cli­mate, which is long-term.

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 drawn sup­port from vot­ers in ur­ban, sub­ur­ban and ru­ral ar­eas, in­clud­ing in dozens of coun­ties Trump won in 2016.

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.

She said the coun­try’s “sense of com­mu­nity is frac­tur­ing” to­day, “worn down by the petty and vi­cious na­ture of our pol­i­tics. We are all tired of the shut­downs and the show­downs, the grid­lock and the grand­stand­ing.”

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.

The field soon could ex­pand to in­clude prom­i­nent Democrats such as for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den of Delaware and Ver­mont Sen. Bernie San­ders.

A Des Moines Reg­is­ter/ CNN/Me­di­a­com poll con­ducted by Selzer & Com­pany in De­cem­ber found that Klobuchar was largely un­fa­mil­iar to likely Iowa cau­cus-go­ers, with 54 per­cent say­ing they didn’t know enough about her to have an opin­ion, while 38 per­cent had a fa­vor­able opin­ion and 8 per­cent had an un­fa­vor­able opin­ion.

“She starts out per­haps with a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of Mid­west­ern vot­ers, but I think she faces the same hur­dles ev­ery one of them face, which is: Are Iowans go­ing to find them ei­ther the best can­di­date to de­feat Don­ald Trump or the can­di­date that most aligns with their ide­olo­gies and is­sues?” said John Nor­ris, a long­time Iowa-based Demo­cratic strate­gist. “I don’t know that com­ing from Min­nesota gives her any ad­van­tage with Iowans.”

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 rally took place not far from the In­ter­state 35W 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-usual 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 this past week to com­bat cli­mate change and cre­ate thou­sands of jobs in re­new­able en­ergy.

But her leg­isla­tive record has drawn crit­i­cism from both the GOP and some fel­low Democrats. Some Repub­li­cans say Klobuchar is able to get things done be­cause she pushes smaller is­sues. Some pro­gres­sives say she lacks the kind of fire and bold ideas needed to bring sig­nif­i­cant change and 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’ve 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 last fall for Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh, who was ac­cused of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing a woman when they were both in high school.

When Klobuchar asked Ka­vanaugh whether he ever had had so much to drink that he didn’t re­mem­ber what hap­pened, he turned the ques­tion around. He asked Klobuchar, “Have you?”

Un­ruf­fled, 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.”

Among the other Mid­west­ern law­mak­ers who could also seek the nom­i­na­tion are Sen. Sher­rod Brown of Ohio, who has been vis­it­ing early vot­ing states, and Pete But­tigieg, the mayor of South Bend, In­di­ana, who es­tab­lished an ex­ploratory com­mit­tee last month.

Klobuchar cam­paigned with Democrats in Iowa last fall, and in De­cem­ber spoke to pro­gres­sive farm­ers and ac­tivists about the im­por­tance of bridg­ing the di­vide be­tween ur­ban and ru­ral ar­eas. She said the les­son learned af­ter the 2016 elec­tion was “we are not go­ing to leave the Mid­west be­hind.”

“This is the mo­ment for the Mid­west,” she said, “and we don’t want to be for­got­ten again in a na­tional elec­tion.”

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