Jim Hartman: Is Klobuchar the Goldilocks alternative?

Amy Klobuchar talks to Douglas County Democrats in Minden recently. More than 200 people turned out for the event.

Amy Klobuchar talks to Douglas County Democrats in Minden recently. More than 200 people turned out for the event.

Thirteen Democratic presidential candidates qualified with the Nevada Democratic Party for the Feb. 22 caucuses, with only Michael Bloomberg failing to file.

In reality, the Democratic field is now winnowed to five candidates who satisfied national party requirements for the next presidential debate (the seventh) on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa. The race’s Big Four: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, will be joined on stage by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Klobuchar brought her presidential campaign to Northern Nevada on Saturday with a morning stop in Minden. She told her Douglas County audience of 250 (filling the county headquarters) that Democrats make a “big mistake” to forget about Nevada’s rural counties.

“I don’t want to be president for half of America, I want to be president for all of America,” Klobuchar said. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, she underscored her involvement with issues important to ranching and agriculture.

Klobuchar’s stump speech was a mixture of carefully aimed barbs directed at President Trump delivered with dry, self-deprecating humor. She’s both “Minnesota Nice” and feisty. Her message: “If you feel stuck in the middle of the extremes in our politics and you are tired of the noise and nonsense, then you have a home with me.”

While Trump is undeniably vulnerable and broadly unpopular ( 43.8 percent “approval” ), the Republican base is fully supportive and his campaign already has $102.7 million cash on hand for November. Though poised to defeat Trump, the Democratic Party in 2019 placed itself outside the mainstream of American politics.

Democratic major candidates announced support for sharply higher taxes, banning private health insurance, the Green New Deal, free college, complete student loan forgiveness, free health care for illegal aliens, and functionally open borders. They would ban fossil fuels and fracking.

Extreme left-wing progressives — like Sanders and Warren — will be ripe targets for the Trump campaign. On Inauguration Day, Sanders will be 79 years old and suffered a recent heart attack. He proudly proclaims himself a “socialist,” a negative label for most voters.

Warren’s radical proposals actually go beyond those of Sanders. PolitiFact reports that her spending plans would cost $7 trillion over a decade — not counting “Medicare for All,” which would exceed $30 trillion.

Biden, the most popular more centrist Democrat, will be 78 years old on Inauguration Day. In debates, he has given answers that were rambling and incoherent at times — raising questions about his age. He’s consistently prone to verbal gaffes. With more than 50 years in politics, Biden has specific baggage that includes support for the Iraq War and of his son, Hunter Biden.

Pete Buttigieg, at 37, would be the youngest president ever — one of the least experienced — and the first openly gay. Only 26 percent of Americans think their neighbors are ready for a gay president, according to a Politico poll. Now South Bend’s former mayor, Buttigieg in 2010 ran unsuccessfully statewide in Indiana, for treasurer, losing by 20 points. His campaign to become Democratic National Chairman in 2017 also failed.

Klobuchar may offer Democrats the Goldilocks alternative. At 59, she is a centrist senator in her third term. In 2018, she won her Senate re-election race by a whopping 24 points. Her other races have been similar landslides —winning 65 percent of the vote in 2012 and 58 percent in 2006.

As a legislator, Klobuchar has often taken bipartisan approaches. In 2016, she was credited with passing more legislation than any other senator. She worked closely with the late Republican Sen. John McCain, including joining him in a December 2016 visit to the Baltic states and Ukraine.

Dark horse candidate Klobuchar’s strong “electability” argument in battleground states has her rising among Democrats.

Jim Hartman is an attorney residing in Genoa.


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