OTTUMWA — Sen. Amy Klobuchar made an argument in favor of electability on Friday, telling an Ottumwa audience she has shown she can win in tough environments.
Klobuchar, who is from Minnesota, said she won her seat not by going to areas that were reliably supportive of Democrats, but by seeking out voters who were skeptical.
“I think you have to be every place, every time,” she said. “When you win, it is not just your victory. It is a victory for your state and a victory for your country.”
Klobuchar spoke to an audience of about 50 people who braved a cold rain at the beginning of a large winter storm. She said the 2020 election is a gut check for Americans on a number of issues, from economics to climate change. Pocketbook issues like affordable prescription drugs are also at issue.
Farm bankruptcies are up by a quarter, Klobuchar said, and that’s a concern that should cross partisan lines in rural states. She touted work with Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley on a bill to make it easier for people to stay on the farm during tough times.
That led into a plea by Klobuchar for her supporters to avoid ideological litmus tests when talking with people who might disagree. She said others don’t need to be in agreement on every single item for them to be worth talking to.
Klobuchar said she has spoken to people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and who are looking for an alternative this time. If the door is slammed in their faces, the chance of gaining their support is low. She said the issue goes well beyond any one election for a single office.
“We want these people back. We want them not just for the presidential election. We want them so we can win Congressional seats,” she said.
Klobuchar spent much of her speech targeting Trump directly, contrasting his upbringing with her own. Trump grew up wealthy, she said, the son of a rich developer, and benefitted from his father’s wealth as he attempted to build his own.
By contrast, Klobuchar pointed to her grandfather. He was a miner. He and his wife saved money in a can in the basement to try to put Klobuchar’s father in position to go to a two-year community college.
“That money in the coffee can, that was our family trust. That was it,” she said.
The storm moving into Ottumwa was expected to hit a wide swath of the state with significant amounts of snow. Klobuchar couldn’t resist tweaking rivals who cancelled events, saying Minnesota winters teach you to deal with challenging weather.
“Amy Klobuchar never cancels anything,” she said with a wry smile.