Kristian Evans, Senior News Editor
Senator Amy Klobuchar announced her candidacy for President at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis on Sunday. Klobuchar, who has long been rumored to have interest in a presidential campaign, became the ninth Democrat and fifth woman to join the rapidly growing field to challenge President Trump in 2020.
Elected officials supportive of Klobuchar’s work spoke to a crowd of around 9,000 gathered despite heavy snowfall. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Senator Tina Smith, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan and Governor Tim Walz highlighted Klobuchar’s life in elected office and commitment to making the state of Minnesota a better place. Items such as her work on prescription drug legislation and her high-profile questioning of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh drew cheers from the crowd, many of whom were given red and blue signs reading “Amy for America.”
Klobuchar then took the stage to make the announcement official and to lay out a policy agenda she would pursue as president. Among those items were rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, pursuing universal healthcare and reforming the nation’s immigration system. While many of those items are in line with the Democratic establishment platform, terms adopted by the more liberal parts of the party such as “Medicare for All,” a “Green New Deal” and the abolishment of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were absent from her speech.
Klobuchar recently won a third term in the Senate by 24 points in 2018. Before becoming the first woman senator from Minnesota, she served as the Hennepin County Attorney from 1998–2006, focusing on a drunk-driving and DWI reform. During her time in the Senate, Klobuchar has developed a reputation for getting bipartisan legislation passed despite polarization. Augsburg Political Science Chair Andrew Aoki acknowledged how that success may play into Klobuchar’s campaign strategy. “She’ll likely frame herself as a consensus-builder who can bridge our deep partisan divides,” said Aoki. “But that’s a general election appeal, and less likely to succeed with the flamethrowing activists who dominate the nomination campaign.”
While the mood of the event was overwhelming positive, a “Huffington Post” article published a week earlier cast some negative light on the Senator’s office environment and leadership style. The report, which details instances of harsh criticism by Klobuchar and hyper-demanding expectations within the office, generated buzz leading up to the announcement. A video posted on the “Star Tribune” website, showed Klobuchar responding to the assertions made in the article.
With the Iowa caucus still a year away and more high-profile Democrats such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders still weighing presidential campaigns, it is unclear if Klobuchar can turn her Minnesota success into nationwide appeal. “At the national level, she’s going to have to stand out from a growing crowd,” said Professor Aoki. “[She will need to] convince some super PAC funders that she can capture the imagination of millions who don’t know her family name or anything else about her background.”
Amy Klobuchar announces here bid for the Democrat Party’s presidential candidate in 2020 at Boom Island on 2/10. Photo by Emilie Tomas.
This article was originally published in the Feb. 15, 2019 issue.