Amy Klobuchar has made it official. The third-term senator from Minnesota made the long-awaited announcement Sunday that she is running for president and has become, at least so far, the most prominent Midwestern candidate in the crowded field. With her announcement, Klobuchar becomes the fifth senator who is vying to become commander in chief after Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. When you take into account Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Klobuchar is now the fifth woman currently serving in Congress to announce her candidacy for president.
“I am running for every parent who wants a better world for their kids. I’m running for every student who wants a good education,” Klobuchar said. “For every senior who wants affordable prescription drugs. For every worker, farmer, dreamer and builder. I am running for every American. I am running for you.”
Considering most of the top Democratic contenders for the White House come from coastal states, Klobuchar is counting on her profile as a more moderate candidate known for “Minnesota nice” politics to help her stand out. That profile as someone who prides herself on being able to “disagree without being disagreeable” is seen as potentially particularly appealing to voters in Iowa. Yet at a time when she is trying to bolster her profile as a friendly and approachable politician, several former staffers have come out to portray her as a brutal boss who has no qualms about mistreating those who work for her. That reputation reportedly led at least three people from withdrawing their names from consideration to lead her campaign.
Klobuchar didn’t directly mention President Donald Trump during her campaign launch, although she did criticize the tendency to conduct “foreign policy by tweet.” And she did make it clear that part of her strategy in her campaign will be to contrast her style with that of the current president. “We are tired of the shutdowns and the showdowns, the gridlock and the grandstanding,” Klobuchar said to the large crowd that gathered despite the freezing weather and persistent snow. “Our nation must be governed not from chaos but from opportunity. Not by wallowing over what’s wrong, but by marching inexorably toward what’s right.”
Klobuchar rose to national prominence last year during the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh whether he ever had so much to drink that he couldn’t remember what happened. “Have you?” Kavanaugh asked Klobuchar. Kavanaugh later apologized. Yet despite that moment that made national headlines, Klobuchar remains largely unknown to voters and she has a lot of work ahead if she hopes to catch up to some of her better-known primary rivals. Some have also questioned whether her profile as a moderate, bipartisan dealmaker can really excite the Democratic base at a time when the progressive wing of the party seems particularly energized.