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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar wipes snow from her hair after announcing she is running for president of the United States at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis on Sunday. 

Monday, February 11, 2019 1:00 am

Minnesota senator joins 2020 field

Vows she'll 'get things done' with bipartisan effort

Associated Press

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, 58, 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that on her first day as president, she would have the U.S. rejoin an international climate agreement that Trump has withdrawn from.

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.

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.”

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 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, an Iowa-based Democratic strategist. “I don't know that coming from Minnesota gives her any advantage with Iowans.”

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 to combat climate change and create thousands of jobs in renewable energy.

Klobuchar on Sunday 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.”