2020 Candidate Amy Klobuchar Says Her 'Optimistic Economic Agenda' Will Attract Voters

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Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks during the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar speaks during the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

We're talking with presidential candidates in the runup to the 2020 election. Check out all of our conversations.

On Thursday, 10 Democratic candidates for president will take the stage in Houston for another debate. One of them will be Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

In a large — but shrinking — field of 2020 hopefuls, candidates need to stand out in order to capture voters’ attention and remain memorable. For Klobuchar, she says her message of unity on both sides of the aisle will help her win.

“I am someone that has always believed that we need to cross the bridge of our politics to a higher plane. And I believe it more than ever now,” Klobuchar says. “Every single day where Donald Trump's trying to divide our country, we should be one America.”

She says the takeaways from the 2016 election and observing how Trump has governed over the past three years will help her succeed if she goes head-to-head with him.

“He can be absurd, and to ignore that is at your own peril,” she says. “You can't pretend it's not happening.”

If elected, Klobuchar says within her first couple months of being in office, she would put forth 100 proposals — ideas that she believes would “change the tone of our politics.”

“Stop the mean tweets,” she says. “Start getting actual things done.”

Interview Highlights

On what she stands for

“When you look at my track record of how I have run my campaigns where, yes, I get huge vote[s] from Democrats, but I've also been able to bring in independents and moderate Republicans, including those that voted for Donald Trump. And that's not only how you win. It's how you govern. That's how you get those big things done, those bold plans on finally taking on climate change and immigration reform and doing something to bring down the costs of health care. We have to bring people with us.”

On how she’d describe herself politically

“I would describe myself as a progressive in a very important way. If you're going to be a successful progressive, you have to make progress. And I have passed over 100 bills where I am the lead Democrat, and I'd compare that record really to most of my opponents out there on the stage because I'm someone that's known as a person that goes to work for their constituents and get things done.”

On Trump’s election in 2016

“No one had ever run against a candidate like President Trump before. Hillary was a great candidate. She would have been a great president, but no one had dealt with someone that would just try to distract people everyday instead of talking about the issues at hand. I think we've learned a lot since that time. The first thing we've learned is you go not just where it's comfortable, but where it's uncomfortable. That's what I've done in all my campaigns. That's how I've won every single red congressional district every single time. The second thing that we've learned is to use some humor. ... So when [Trump] was talking about Greenland and buying Greenland, I actually put out a tweet that did better than any of his that weekend. And that said this: ‘What's the difference between Donald Trump and Greenland? Greenland is not for sale.’ Those are the kinds of things you got to hit him with some humor because he uses humor. We just don't think it's funny. But you just can't sit there and pretend he's not happening. You've got to meet him where he is.”

On “Sharpiegate” and use of humor in politics

“I actually didn't do any joke on that because I think this hurricane is so deadly serious and I had a little trouble myself making jokes about that. But he does things, of course, that aren't true. He doesn't deliver on promises. Coming from a state that he almost won, there are people that voted for him that voted for Barack Obama, and they voted for Donald Trump because they actually believe that because he had his name on a building, he could build things and help with infrastructure. They believed and he said he was gonna do that. They believed he'd bring down the cost of pharmaceuticals and do something to make it easier for people to attend college, that he'd have the backs of our farmers. He has failed at every single one of those promises. And now when he's faced with challenges — many of them because of his own making with Iran enriching uranium, with Kim Jong Un launching missiles, with the trade war that's going on — what does he do then? He blames people. He whines. And I can tell you having been out in the Midwest, the hardworking people that took a chance and voted for him, they don't like whiners in the White House. And that's what he does every day.”

On the opioid epidemic

“As a former prosecutor, I went through a time where we didn't have much opioid addiction. And that has changed because the pharmaceutical companies pumped out a bunch of drugs, told people and doctors they were safe, and then people got addicted, many of them dying. That's why you're seeing all these humongous lawsuits all over the country. So I took on this issue early on with two Democratic senators, I was one of them, and two Republicans and put out a blueprint that passed for dealing with the opioid epidemic in this country. What we need to do is first of all get people treatment that need it. And my plan pays for that as well as paying for mental health beds, another big unmet need in this country. Then we have to go after those pharma companies so they stop getting people hooked and track what these prescriptions are and what's happening. And then finally, make sure that we're not bringing in things like illegal fentanyl from other countries like China.”

On her first overseas trip she’d make as president

“I would go to Canada close by since right now in Minnesota, I can see Canada from my porch. The president at times has pissed off the entire country of Canada. That's not easy to do. Then I would go to see our other allies, Europe [and] Mexico, and make sure that we assure them that we stand with them. One of the most memorable trips I ever took was with John McCain and Lindsey Graham, right before John McCain got sick, to the Baltics. And we stood there on New Year's Eve in a blizzard, since I always stand in blizzards, with the president of Ukraine at the time and McCain planned that trip after Donald Trump had been elected but before he was sworn in because he understood what we were headed into. He understood the value of standing with our allies. I think those kinds of strong statements are going to be very important for the next president and that's why in my first 100 days, I've put forward over 100 proposals that would change the tone of our politics, stop the mean tweets, start getting actual things done, and meeting these challenges on farmer prices, get back into the international climate change agreement [and] get those clean power rules. I have literally outlined over 100 things you can do without Congress. I love Congress. I'm in a very good position to get things done through Congress. But we have to change the tone immediately and a president can do that on her own.”

On her climate change plan, and her C+ rating from the environmental organization Greenpeace

“That I don't know because I do know that the League of Conservation Voters has endorsed my plan and gave a very strong statement from a climate change plan. And that also over the years, I've gotten a nearly 100% rating from the main environmental groups and it's very consistent and that is because I've stood up against the rollback of so many of these environmental rules. I feel strongly. I have voted for cap and trade and for strong efforts to attack climate change and the climate crisis. And I've stood up for clean water and for clean air and that's what I feel. I'm from a state that values the outdoors. I'm the person that never took a vacation in my first years growing up that didn't involve a tent or a cabin or a trailer. And that's because it's been a big part of my life growing up and it's going to be a major effort of mine when it comes to being president.”

On what will make her a competitive candidate

“Well I think this interview is going to change everything that's been so viral. You know, people keep saying you have to have this viral moment. And I point out that's what they are. Those are just moments and they help people with fundraising for one day. But what you really have to do to get the American people behind you to win and to govern is to make a strong overarching case to this country of who can win and how we govern. And that is my case and I will not stop making it. The way I look at this is I'm ahead of 18 people, including every governor and the mayor of New York City. And I have done that through hard work being from a state where I was not a household name but where I put together strong organizations and I made my case to the people, and that is the reason that I am on that debate stage with a number of other people, one who is a former vice president. I am up on that stage because people have listened and there are a group of people that want to see me heading up our ticket and in the White House. That's where we expand and that's how we go forward. And the fact that I'm on two debates gives me even more opportunities to do that.”

Jill Ryan produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd MundtSerena McMahon adapted it for the web.

This segment aired on September 9, 2019.


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Jeremy Hobson Former Co-Host, Here & Now
Before coming to WBUR to co-host Here & Now, Jeremy Hobson hosted the Marketplace Morning Report, a daily business news program with an audience of more than six million.



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