Klobuchar: Why Trump should fear her
Midwestern roots and blue-collar cred
When Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced her 2020 presidential candidacy in a driving Minnesota snowstorm this week, said David Leonhardt in The New York Times, she immediately became President Trump’s “nightmare opponent.” Klobuchar’s working-class background, her “populist folksiness,” and Midwestern roots make her “well positioned to take back the blue-collar states Trump needs,” such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. She also has a proven record of winning elections, performing well even in Republican, rural districts in Minnesota. In 2006, she won her Senate election by 20 points; in 2012, by 35 points; and in 2018, by 24 points. Klobuchar is also “candid and funny,” and a skilled former county prosecutor, said Nate Silver in FiveThirtyEight.com. Who can forget how she calmly exposed Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings—creating the moment in which he angrily denied ever getting blackout drunk? That sort of poise “should translate well into the sharp-elbowed stage of the debates.”
Klobuchar may, indeed, be the “Democrat best able to beat Mr. Trump,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. “At 58, she’s a generation younger than Joe Biden,” her main centrist competition. With 12 years in the Senate, she’s experienced, and her gender “ticks the identity-politics box.” She’s also more pragmatic than many of her leftist competitors, advocating reforming Immigration and Customs Enforcement, rather than abolishing it, and giving people the option to buy into Medicare rather than imposing “Medicare for all.” But she faces headwinds. In a national survey, 49 percent of Americans said they’d never heard of her.
There are also some new, troubling stories about her alleged mistreatment of her staff to consider, said Jonathan Bernstein in Bloomberg.com. The stories quote anonymous staff saying Klobuchar hurls binders, rants, sends cruel late-night emails, and orders staff to perform her house chores; if true, that could translate in the West Wing to leaks, high staff turnover, and low-quality personnel. That said, Washington, D.C., is den of gossip—and sexism could also be partially to blame. “Does a female senator get a bad reputation for behavior that would be considered tough but fair in a male member of Congress?” Two telltale signs will be if her campaign shows a lot of churn and if the “peers who know her best endorse her.” ■