Minn. Demo­crat Klobuchar joins 2020 pres­i­den­tial field

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - NATION & WORLD - By 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 three­term 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.

She spoke of the need to “heal the heart of our democ­racy and re­new our com­mit­ment to the com­mon good.”

Klobuchar, who eas­ily won a third term last year with 60 per­cent of the vote, 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 in 2016.

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.

Klobuchar, 58, is known as a 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.

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.

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