Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar pitched her candidacy Saturday as one that could bring a divided nation together on issues such as health care and immigration, based on her record of cross-party appeal in her home state.
In an interview after she addressed a UNITE HERE Culinary Local 226 town hall in Las Vegas, Klobuchar said she’d bypass political divisions if elected by finding common ground over shared needs.
“I think so much of it is how you treat people,” she said. “When I’m president, the first thing I would do is call leaders of both parties, call all the (state) governors in the country, and talk to them about what they need, what they think their state needs and listen to them, regardless of party.”
Klobuchar said her record in Minnesota — where she’s won big majorities in both blue districts and red — demonstrates she can reach across the aisle and cooperate on issues with her Republican colleagues. “I think people are not interested in just fighting for four years and seeing this move on. They want to have a country that is bigger than that guy in the White House. They want to see someone who thinks about these ideas with her head, yes, but also with her heart.”
But cooperating doesn’t mean surrendering your values, Klobuchar said, with pointed attacks on Trump during the town hall and in her interview afterward.
“When you have a leader who wants people to fight, sometimes that happens because they see him on TV,” she said of Trump. “What I hear more about is parents having to mute the sound because they don’t want their kids to hear what he might say at a rally. I want to be a president that you can leave the sound on for, and that you want to hear what they say.”
So far, however, Klobuchar has lagged in the polls. Although she has met the fundraising and polling qualifications to participate in every Democratic debate thus far, she remains in seventh place with just 2.8 percent average in national surveys of the Democratic field, according to Real Clear Politics.
Republicans, meanwhile, accused Klobuchar of being bad for the economy.
“Amy Klobuchar’s presidential hopes are hanging on by a thread, but Nevadans have seen through her facade as a moderate,” said Keith Schipper, the Nevada communications director for Trump Victory. “With plans to bring about massive tax hikes for middle-class families and destroying the great economy we continue to see month to month, Nevadans will make sure Amy Klobuchar has nowhere to go after caucus day.”
On issues, Klobuchar said she’s co-sponsored a bill that would allow the Medicare program to negotiate for prescription drug prices to lower costs, and that would block drug companies from paying rivals from bringing competitive drugs to market to keep prices artificially high. And she differs with some of her fellow candidates on the biggest health care issue of the day.
“It (Medicare for All) sounds so good on a bumper sticker until you start actually reading the bill,” she said. “And this does not mean that I don’t want to move toward universal health care. I do. I just think the best way to do it is with a nonprofit public option to build on the Affordable Care Act, to build on Obamacare and make it better, instead of blowing the whole thing up and starting over.”
On immigration, Klobuchar told the union audience that she “knows where the Republican votes are” for reform.
“I think we are so close to do a bill like the one, not exactly like it, but something like 2013. As long as we keep the House (of Representatives), we can get it done.”
In 2013, a bipartisan majority of 68 senators passed a reform bill, but it never got a vote in the House under then-speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Former President George W. Bush also had a reform plan that wasn’t passed, and a deal to protect immigrants brought to the country illegally as children collapsed under President Donald Trump.
Klobuchar voted to confirm current Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette to a sub-cabinet role, breaking with then-Sen. Dean Heller and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who voted no because they feared Brouillette would continue efforts to restart Yucca Mountain. But she said Saturday she opposes storing the nation’s nuclear waste in Nevada.
“So, I think what we need to do is seek out storage possibilities across this country,” she said. “There are areas of the country that have shown some interest in this and so we’ve got to seek those out so there’s a place to store the waste. And it shouldn’t be in Yucca Mountain.”
Cortez Masto and Sen. Jacky Rosen, along with Rep. Dina Titus, favor legislation that would require states and local governments to consent before nuclear waste is stored in their jurisdictions.
Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0253. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.