As expected, Senator Amy Klobuchar announced this afternoon that she is running for president. Why not? Everyone else is. Scott has written about Klobuchar a number of times, most recently here.
Klobuchar made her announcement in snow-covered Minneapolis. Predictably, she described herself as the candidate of everyone:
“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.”
Somehow, though, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion she isn’t running for me.
Klobuchar’s all-things-to-all-people approach has served her well in Minnesota. She is good at constituent service and gets quite a bit of support from the business community. In the Senate, she has focused mostly on uncontroversial small-ball–product safety and the like–and she is personally pleasant toward local conservatives. I don’t know her well, but she is cordial when I run into her, as, most recently, when I testified before the Joint Economic Committee, of which she is a member. Coincidentally, her husband worked for me quite a few years ago. I get along fine with him, too.
I make these personal observations because they are an important part of Klobuchar’s political persona. Her voting record is just as bad as any other Senate Democrat’s, but her leftism comes in a moderate package. If she can fool a lot of Minnesota businessmen, she likely can appeal to relatively moderate Democratic primary voters, too.
Klobuchar’s bland image obscures the same vaulting ambition that characterizes almost any serious presidential candidate. (A friend who has been active in DFL politics for decades describes Klobuchar as the most ambitious Minnesota Democrat since Walter Mondale.) And also, apparently, a considerable amount of rage. Lately, she has been in the news because of longstanding reports of her abusive treatment of staff. Whether voters will care remains to be seen.
The obvious question is whether Klobuchar will be one of the finalists when the 20-odd Democratic presidential wannabes sort themselves out. It is way too early to tell, of course, but I think she may be. Openly leftist candidates, of which there are many, will split the crazy-Democrat vote. While most primary voters will fall into that category, there is room for someone (maybe a couple of someones) closer to the center. It is easy to imagine that when the primary season approaches a climax, whoever becomes the chief “moderate” candidate will face off against three or four uncompromising leftists. That moderate, or faux-moderate, candidate could well be Amy Klobuchar. Neither her drive, nor her discipline, nor her political skills should be underestimated.
I would not be shocked if, when the dust settles, Amy Klobuchar is the Democrats’ choice to face off against President Trump. But first, she will have to show that she can get traction in a Democratic electorate that is more or less crazed.