Klobuchar prom­ises to ‘lead from the heart’

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Milwaukee Wisconsin - Sara Bur­nett

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, 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, though she did be­moan the con­duct of “for­eign pol­icy by tweet.” She in­stead 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 thirdterm 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 bet­ter­known 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.

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-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.

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