This article is written from a democratic point of view.
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
Hover to Expand
In the midst of a snow squall back home in Minnesota over the weekend, Sen. Amy Klobuchar became the fifth US senator and the fifth woman to declare a candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
She chose to cast herself as a folksy midwesterner.
“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.”
Amidst so much which is grim and negative in society today, Minnesota’s senior senator certainly is offering the nation a more positive vision.
However, while she is highlighting a certain folksy “can-do” attitude, Klobuchar has declined to embrace such progressive initiatives that other Democratic candidates are touting as Medicare-for-all universal health coverage and the abolishment of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She’s also not publicly endorsed a $15 an hour minimum wage.
Klobuchar has a certain level of appeal as a candidate, given that she has won her three Senate races by convincing margins.
But even some of Klobuchar’s friends and allies in Minnesota openly worry her more centrist approach might not provide a strong enough contrast when held up to what would be, ultimately, a loud, ugly contest with Donald Trump.
“Her voting record is safe. It’s very centrist and that’s just not what we’re about,” says Anita Seeling, vice chair of the board of Our revolution Minnesota, a state branch of an organization built from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. “We need someone that’s a champion.”
None of this is to make any firm determination on Klobuchar’s candidacy at this early stage. The primary season is still about a year away.
As Minnesota political activist told a reporter, “I think that any sensible person is going to take a look at every single candidate. Let’s talk about every candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Then there is a second part to this story which may, or may not, haunt Klobuchar in her campaign. On the sidelines of her snowy presidential campaign lift-off, the newly minted candidate was forced to acknowledge, “Yes, I can be tough and, yes, I can push people.”
She was responding to a HuffPost report which essentially describes Klobuchar creating such a demanding and hostile work environment as a senator that, at one point, then-Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid had to step in and admonish her.
At this point, of course, this entire matter could dissolve if an overall feeling that it’s been handled appropriately takes hold. On the other hand, if more stories of the senator berating or abusing her staff continue to leak out, she could lose goodwill and support very quickly, and see the end to her road to the White House just as fast.