Dems’ 2020 field now includes Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
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. 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said that on first day as president, she would have the U.S. rejoin an international climate agreement that Trump has withdrawn from.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.”
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 straight-shooting, pragmatist willing to work with Republicans, making her one of the Senate’s most productive members at passing legislation.
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 is a lawyer and the former prosecutor in Minnesota’s largest county.
DEMOCRATIC SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR addresses a snowy rally where she announced she is entering the race for president Sunday at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis.