WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar invoked a long-distance runner’s analogy in a morning speech before the Press Club in Washington to describe her increasingly long shot presidential campaign.
The latest polls show her tied for ninth place, but the popular three-term Minnesota senator — still a nearly six months before the Iowa caucuses — said she wasn’t a sprinter.
“But I’m really good at long-distance bike riding and long hikes,” said Klobuchar, even nodding to “long parades” in Iowa. “When you do these long treks you know you wake up early in the morning and get a lot of miles behind you before it gets really hot and the sun gets too high in the sky and before you get too tired.”
The focus of Klobuchar’s address was her legislative agenda for her first 100 days, which she said would have “direct, vigorous” action ranging from climate change legislation to executive action on prescription drug prices. But Klobuchar could’ve been speaking about her campaign, currently muddling in the second-tier of Democratic candidates behind headliners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, according to the latest Politico/Morning Consult poll.
Klobuchar’s camp did clear a major hurdle Monday evening, reporting a fundraising haul of $3.87 million from 100,000 unique donors, putting her within striking distance of qualifying for the third Democratic debate in September. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($24.8 million) led other candidates in fundraiser for the second quarter.
Her 30-minute speech covered her “refrigerator to-do list,” she said, ranging from topics familiar to her presidential campaign, such as getting rid of the so-called “boyfriend loophole” for gun buyers, safeguarding healthcare protections for those with preexisting conditions and introducing an infrastructure package.
She also proposed a list of executive actions she’d take in the early days of her presidency, such as raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour and setting up a clemency board to review wrongful convictions and overly harsh federal sentences.
During the Q&A portion of Tuesday morning’s address, attention turned back to the current White House occupant.
Calling recent tweets by President Donald Trump “reprehensible and racist” in which he singled out four Democratic congresswomen of color, including fellow Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, to “go back” to their home countries (all four are U.S. citizens), Klobuchar also chastised reporters for feeding the president’s distraction-machine.
Citing the ICE raids against immigrant communities hyped by Trump on Twitter, or his failed attempt to get a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census, Klobuchar observed the media often enables the president’s “mean-spirited agenda.”
“He picks something out and he wants you guys to cover it and usually you comply,” said Klobuchar, addressing reporters in the room.
One Tuesday morning presidential tweet did catch Klobuchar’s attention, she mentioned. Earlier in the day, Trump tweeted, “If you hate our Country, of if you are not happy here, you can leave!” By the president’s own standards, Klobuchar said, on day one of her administration, Trump himself would be deported.
“A happy warrior he is not,” said Klobuchar, referencing the nickname of former Minnesota Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey.
The senator did share campaign trail stories, including drinking what she mistook for water — but was actually a cup of vodka — on stage at Northrup Auditorium in Minneapolis for a taping of the podcast, “Lovett or Leave It,” hosted by a former Obama speechwriter.
And she told a story about her mother, Rose Klobuchar a longtime teacher, who used to annually visit a former special needs student of hers who worked at the grocery store on the day she dressed up as a monarch butterfly to illustrate a lesson on butterfly migration.
“That is more than being a teacher, that is showing values,” said Klobuchar, before pivoting. “And that’s what we need in our country.”