Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Min­nesota said she will run for pres­i­dent in 2020, putting a prag­matic Mid­west­erner into the field of Demo­cratic can­di­dates.

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHELSEA JANES AND MATT VISER [email protected]­ [email protected]­

MINNEAPOLIS — Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Min­nesota an­nounced Sun­day that she will run for pres­i­dent in 2020, putting a prag­matic Mid­west­erner tout­ing a mes­sage of com­pe­tence and met­tle into the bur­geon­ing field of Demo­cratic can­di­dates.

Klobuchar held her rally at a park on the banks of the Mis­sis­sippi River, near the site of the 2007 col­lapse of the In­ter­state 35W bridge, in which 13 peo­ple were killed and scores were in­jured.

The bridge was quickly re­built in 2008, af­ter politi­cians and of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the se­na­tor, came to­gether to ex­pe­dite the con­struc­tion process. The in­tended take­away of its role as the emo­tional heart of her speech: Klobuchar is some­one who will get things done.

“That sense of com­mu­nity is frac­tur­ing across our na­tion right now, 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,” Klobuchar said. “Our na­tion must be gov­erned not from chaos but from op­por­tu­nity. Not by wal­low­ing over what’s wrong, but by march­ing in­ex­orably to­ward what’s right. And it has to start with all of us.”

Pres­i­den­tial an­nounce­ments are typ­i­cally chore­ographed to the sec­ond, with all ex­i­gen­cies cov­ered. In Klobuchar’s case, her en­try into the race came at an out­side event at which the bare­headed can­di­date, her in­tro­duc­tory speak­ers and hun­dreds of sup­port­ers were pelted by re­lent­less snow. She sought to use that, too, as defin­ing her can­di­dacy.

“We don’t let a lit­tle snow stop us! We don’t let a lot of cold stop us!” Klobuchar said.

Later, speak­ing to re­porters, she noted that she made her an­nounce­ment “in the mid­dle of a bliz­zard, and I think we need peo­ple with grit. I have that grit.”

When a re­porter asked if she was tough enough to take on Pres­i­dent Trump, she replied: “I’d have loved to see him sit­ting out here in the snow for an hour giv­ing this speech.”

Trump com­mented on Klobuchar’s an­nounce­ment via Twit­ter:

“Amy Klobuchar an­nounced that she is run­ning for Pres­i­dent, talk­ing proudly of fight­ing global warm­ing while stand­ing in a vir­tual bliz­zard of snow, ice and freez­ing tem­per­a­tures,” he tweeted. “Bad tim­ing. By the end of her speech she looked like a Snow­man (woman)!”

In re­sponse, the se­na­tor tweeted: “Sci­ence is on my side, @re­alDon­aldTrump. Look­ing for­ward to de­bat­ing you about cli­mate change (and many other is­sues). And I won­der how your hair would fare in a bliz­zard?”

The sprawl­ing field Klobuchar joined Sun­day in­cludes four Demo­cratic sen­a­tors — El­iz­a­beth War­ren (Mass.), Ka­mala D. Harris (Calif.), Kirsten Gil­li­brand (N.Y.) and Cory Booker (N. J.).

Klobuchar aimed to dis­tin­guish her­self with a Mid­west­ern earnest­ness.

“To­day, on an is­land in the mid­dle of the mighty Mis­sis­sippi, in our na­tion’s heart­land, at a time when we must heal the heart of our democ­racy and re­new our com­mit­ment to the com­mon good, I stand be­fore you as the grand­daugh­ter of an iron-ore miner, as the daugh­ter of a teacher and a news­pa­per­man, as the first woman elected to the United States Se­nate from the state of Min­nesota, to an­nounce my can­di­dacy for pres­i­dent of the United States,” Klobuchar said.

She said she was run­ning “for every worker, farmer, dreamer and builder.”

“I am run­ning for every Amer­i­can,” she said. “I am run­ning for you. 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.”

That mid­dle-Amer­i­can po­si­tion­ing came un­der threat last week as mul­ti­ple news or­ga­ni­za­tions pub­lished re­ports that quoted un­named staff mem­bers as say­ing Klobuchar had been an ex­cep­tion­ally dif­fi­cult boss.

She has the third-high­est staff turnover rate in the Se­nate, with an an­nual turnover rate of 35 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to data from 2001 to 2017 col­lected by LegiS­torm, a non­par­ti­san con­gres­sional re­search com­pany.

Asked about the re­ports af­ter her speech, Klobuchar praised her staff for putting to­gether the an­nounce­ment event.

“Yes, I can be tough. And yes, I can push peo­ple. I know that,” she said. “But in the end, there are so many great sto­ries of our staff that have been with me for years who have gone on to do in­cred­i­ble things. And I have, I’d say, high ex­pec­ta­tions for my­self. I have high ex­pec­ta­tions for the peo­ple who work for me. And I have high ex­pec­ta­tions for this coun­try. That’s what we need. We need some­one who is fo­cused on get­ting things done for our coun­try.”

The 58-year-old for­mer pros­e­cu­tor has spent much of her ca­reer at­tempt­ing to be a bi­par­ti­san coali­tion-builder, will­ing to ap­pear on Fox News as well as MSNBC. She can point to elec­tion vic­to­ries that il­lus­trate an abil­ity to win in lib­eral ur­ban areas as well as con­ser­va­tive ru­ral ones.

Klobuchar in 2006 be­came the first woman from Min­nesota elected to the U.S. Se­nate, and has con­tin­ued to win as that area of the coun­try has be­come more Repub­li­can. She was eas­ily re­elected in 2012 and 2018, car­ry­ing con­ser­va­tive areas of the state that Trump won in 2016.

She can tout a record of pro­duc­tiv­ity, with Medill News Ser­vice rank­ing her in 2016 as the se­na­tor who spon­sored or co-spon­sored the most bills that be­came law.

But she is rel­a­tively untested when it comes to rais­ing the kind of money needed for a cam­paign, as well as ap­peal­ing to mi­nori­ties and winning over lib­er­als.

Klobuchar was born and raised in Min­nesota. Her fa­ther, a sports­writer and colum­nist for the Minneapolis Star Tri­bune, was an al­co­holic, which put strains on the fam­ily that she re­counted in her 2015 mem­oir, “The Se­na­tor Next Door: A Mem­oir from the Heart­land.”

She dis­cussed her fam­ily his­tory when she ques­tioned Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett M. Ka­vanaugh dur­ing his hear­ing be­fore the Se­nate last year, ask­ing him if he had ever blacked out af­ter drink­ing.

“I don’t know. Have you?” he shot back, in an ex­change that drew wide­spread at­ten­tion and for which he later apol­o­gized.

Klobuchar was the vale­dic­to­rian of her high school, and earned a de­gree in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence from Yale Uni­ver­sity. She earned a law de­gree from the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago, and in 1998 was elected as at­tor­ney of Hen­nepin County, Min­nesota’s most pop­u­lous.

Her sta­tus as a neigh­bor to the first state to cast bal­lots in 2020 may be ben­e­fi­cial, as Klobuchar sug­gested in her speech Sun­day. She spoke of the me­an­der­ing Mis­sis­sippi River, on whose bank she stood, and noted that fur­ther south it passed through Iowa — a state, she said, where Min­nesotans “go south for the win­ter.”

“At least I do,” she said.


Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) an­nounces her can­di­dacy for pres­i­dent dur­ing a snow­fall at a park on the banks of the Mis­sis­sippi River.

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