Dave Begley: Live from Atlantic

Our occasional correspondent Dave Begley was on hand when Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar brought her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to a Cass County party event in Atlantic, Iowa on Monday (thumbnail photo courtesy of Dave). Dave — a Nebraska attorney practicing elder law and estate planning in Omaha — posed a question that Senator Klobuchar is unlikely to be asked by any other correspondent on the trail and escaped to file this report:

I spent time in Minnesota in my youth and so I know Minnesota Nice. Senator Amy Klobuchar has Minnesota Nice down cold. She’s just so darn likable! If Hillary is a 1 on the likability scale, then Amy is a 10. She has the manner of Barack Obama but without his professorial condescension and arrogance. If the Democrat 2020 field has a moderate lane, she can fill it if she wants to. And did she connect with the women! Hillary never personally connected like Amy did. A woman next to me wrote a donation check during Amy’s stump speech. In all the events I have attended I have never before seen that.

The electoral genius of Amy Klobuchar is that when all the radical Democrat policies on climate change, immigration, taxes, health insurance, and foreign affairs come out of her mouth, one might think that it all sounds so nice, reasonable, and compassionate. In Minnesota she won many counties President Trump carried in 2016. In Atlantic, Iowa yesterday she touted her success in rural Minnesota, but it is not as great as she implied,

No one should underestimate this woman. There is grit, steel and ambition in her. And while she’s book smart, she’s also street savvy. She laid out her strategy twice. The first time she said she will: (1) Get things done; (2) win in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan; and (3) tell the truth and govern with integrity. Later in the event she outlined how she will deal with President Trump: (1) Be a happy warrior (cf. Elizabeth Warren); (2) put forth a positive economic agenda; (3) occasionally ignore President Trump; and (4) use some humor on Trump (“He’s all foam and no beer”).

I didn’t expect her to be so funny. She’s no Ammo Grrrll, but for a politician she’s not bad. When President Trump commented on her hair turning white with snow during her campaign announcement, her Twitter reply was: “How would your hair look in a snowstorm?” Citing her record of electoral success, she referred to her now discarded grade school slogan, “All the Way with Amy K.” Big laughs.

Her personal stories were also good. She said she got into politics when she was discharged from the hospital 24 hours after her daughter was born. (Amy to husband John Bessler: “I bet the wives of insurance companies CEOs don’t get this treatment.”) Her daughter was in the ICU and the young mother was not happy. Years later she turned her emotions into action and advocated a bill requiring insurance companies to allow mothers to stay in the hospital for 48 hours after birth. When the issue came down to the effective date of the legislation, she brought six of her obviously pregnant friends to a hearing. That guerilla-style technique resulted in the law becoming effective immediately upon the signature of the governor. That’s Savvy Amy.

Senator Amy also recites a few memorable lines. During the first debate it was “Trump is doing foreign policy at 5:00 a.m. in his bathrobe and on Twitter.” Yesterday it was “the President was using Iowa farmers like poker chips in one of his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos.”

The women I sat with were caught up in the president’s personality, boldness, and drama. One woman said Trump scared her due to his lack of “competence.” In that regard, they are in the school with blogger Ann Althouse and her tag, “I’m for boring.”

When I asked my question, there was a clear look of befuddlement and where-did-this-come-from on the face of the Senator:

DDB: Senator, you’re the former Hennepin County Attorney so I have a law enforcement question for you. There is substantial credible evidence that Rep. Ilhan Omar was married to two men at the same time and one was her brother. And she married her brother in order to arguably get him into this country so so that he could attend a university in North Dakota. Do you think the Hennepin County Attorney and United States Attorney should look into this?

Senator Klobuchar: Okay. I didn’t. I don’t know when this happened. I haven’t looked at all the documents, but I’m not the Hennepin County Attorney today. So I have not looked at all the facts….One of the things you learn as a prosecutor is that you are very careful about not saying anything is a crime or what it is, so you look at the evidence and so. That’s what I’m sure, if that is being considered, that’s what someone would do. But I don’t remember that coming to me at all when I was in the office for those eight years. So I think that some of it just come out. I’m not certain what is happening on it right now. That’s what you do. When you have a case come in, you look at the case — when law enforcement brings you a case — and you make a decision.

A careful and lawyer-like answer from the Senator with an adept evasive maneuver.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Amy Klobuchar finished in the top five in Iowa. Of the 12 candidates whom I have seen in person, she is the best. Her campaign director assured me that she is going to visit every Iowa county. The Senator drew inspiration from Jimmy Carter’s successful campaign in Iowa all those years ago. Meeting Iowans personally goes a long way in getting votes.