Minn. Democrat Klobuchar joins 2020 presidential 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, 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that on her first day as president, she would have the U.S. rejoin an international climate agreement that Trump has withdrawn from.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.