Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announced that she is joining the 2020 presidential race, telling a crowd gathered in frigid and snowy weather in Minneapolis that she will “focus on getting things done.”
“We are tired of the shutdowns and the showdowns, of the gridlock and the grandstanding,” Klobuchar told the crowd gathered at Boom Island Park on the Mississippi River, as snow gathered on her hair and shoulders.
“Today, on this snowy day, on this island, we say, enough is enough.”
Klobuchar, 58, is the fifth Senate Democrat to join the race, and the fifth woman serving in Congress to announce a bid. But as most of the announced candidates so far have emphasized progressive policy positions, she was expected to talk extensively about her reputation as a pragmatist and ability to work across the aisle. In her three elections to the U.S. Senate, she has won handily.
“For too long, leaders in Washington have sat on the sidelines while others try to figure out what to do about the changing economy and its impact on our lives, what to do about the disruptive nature of new technologies, income inequality, the political and geographical divides, the changing climate, the tumult in our world,” she said. “For a moment, let’s stop seeing those obstacles as obstacles in our path.”
She also got in a criticism of the way that Hillary Clinton ran her 2016 presidential campaign, forgoing a visit to the neighboring state of Wisconsin because it was assumed that it would go to the Democrats. Klobuchar said that she will visit the state in her initial campaign travel.
She told the crowd, “I think we’re starting in Wisconsin because as you remember there wasn’t a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016. With me, that changes.”
Though Klobuchar does not have the name recognition of some of her rivals for the nomination, she’s well known within L.A. donor circles, having raised money for her Senate campaigns in the city and because of her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee. She is the ranking member of the antitrust subcommittee, which has scrutinized recent media and telecom mergers.
When it comes to tech policy, she called for net neutrality standards and improved cybersecurity, as well as internet access in every home by 2022.
In her announcement, Klobuchar recalled how her grandfather worked 1,500 feet underground in the mines of northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. “He never graduated from high school. He saved money in a coffee can in the basement to send my dad to college,” she said.
Her father, Jim Klobuchar, now 90, was present at her announcement. He is a retired journalist and columnist for the Minneapolis StarTribune.
Klobuchar said that “freedom of the press wasn’t some abstract idea to my Dad. He embraced it. He lived it.”
Like other Democratic candidates, she has laid the groundwork for a presidential run in recent months by stepping up her appearances on national outlets, including “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” where she was a guest in November, just before the midterm election.
In recent days, however, some media outlets have reported on complaints from former staff members of angry outbursts and high staff turnover, a contrast to her publicly low-key and good-humored image entirely in keeping with “Minnesota Nice.” Other staffers, however, have defended her as someone who has high expectations and helped improve their work performance.
According to CNN, she told reporters after her announcement that she can be tough and push people, but “there are so many great stories of our staff that have been with me for years and have gone on to do incredible things.”
Her kickoff event drew a healthy number of supporters even though it was just 14 degrees — chilly, but certainly not the coldest it’s been in Minneapolis this season.
She is the first Democrat from the state to announce a presidential run since former Walter Mondale got in the race in February, 1983. He made his announcement inside.