Amy Klobuchar: ‘My background is a little different from Donald Trump’

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Little Village is posting videos of all 19 speeches made by the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame celebration in Cedar Rapids, so readers can hear each candidate in his or her own words.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaking at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame celebration on June 9, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

“Thank you, Iowa Democrats,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said as she took the stage at the Iowa Democratic Hall of Fame celebration. “I am your senator next door. And I can see Iowa from my porch.”

The Minnesota senator was touching on two aspects of her campaign with that opening.

First, as soon as she declared her candidacy in February, several national political pundits explained Klobuchar would have a strong advantage in Iowa, because she is from a neighboring state. There’s no evidence for that so far. In the Iowa Poll released in March, Klobuchar had 3-percent support. In the June poll, that dropped to 2 percent.

Second, it’s a joke, playing off the Saturday Night Live version (“I can see Russia from my house”) of Sarah Palin’s 2012 interview answer about Russia’s proximity to Alaska. And Klobuchar has repeatedly said her sense of humor will give her an advantage against Donald Trump. (Campaigning in Iowa City during May, Klobuchar used a variation on the porch joke. Talking about lower drug prices in Canada, she said, “In Minnesota, we can see Canada from our porch.”)

Klobuchar spent much of her Hall of Fame speech drawing a distinction between herself and Trump.

“My background is a little different from Donald Trump,” she said, before sketching out her family’s working-class roots for the audience.

“I stand before you today, as the granddaughter of an iron ore miner, the daughter of a teacher and a newspaperman, the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the state of Minnesota and a candidate for president of the United States,” Klobuchar said, summing up her family story. “That is what this country’s about.”

The Minnesota senator called America “a country of shared dreams.” She continued, “And we have a president that tries to fracture those dreams every single day. And I say, what better place to vow to revive the heart of America than in the heartland of America?”

“What does this mean?” Klobuchar said. “It means an optimistic economic agenda, bridging that rural-urban divide. It means making sure that people in the urban areas understand that food just doesn’t magically appear on your table.”

The senator then ticked off several priorities she’d pursue as president, including increased spending on child care, housing, infrastructure and education. She also committed to reforming the healthcare system — although she doesn’t favor Medicare-for-all or other single-payer plans — and lowering drug prices. Klobuchar said she’d support unions, oppose monopolies and amend the Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

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It was basically the same list of priorities Klobuchar discussed in Iowa City in May, although during her presentations at The Mill and the Iowa City Public Library, she didn’t include the emphasis on rural values.

But before any action can be taken on the agenda Klobuchar outlined, “we need to win,” she reminded the party activists and elected officials in Cedar Rapids.

“And I know I can win, because I’ve done it every place, everywhere, every time,” Klobuchar said.

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