About 30 hours after President Donald Trump deflected blame for “alt-right” extremism, compared refugees fleeing violence to UFC fighters, complained about getting no credit for last year’s election results, and tested a new and improved version of his “winning, winning, winning” message for 2020 at The Venetian, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) visited the Blind Center of Nevada some six miles down Las Vegas Boulevard and spoke with an intimate group of Democrats who are eager to achieve their own “winning, winning, winning” in the form of defeating Trump next year.
So what’s Klobuchar’s strategy to achieve that? “Sometimes, you ignore him. Sometimes, you use humor. Sometimes, you have to stand up and tell him he’s wrong.” And that’s not all, as Klobuchar had far more to say, and not just about electoral politics, but also policies she hopes will “make the biggest difference” in Americans’ lives.
“Whenever there’s a fork in the road, [Trump] chooses to divide us. We must choose unity to bring people together.”
– Amy Klobuchar
In a stark contrast to the highly charged atmosphere at the Republican Jewish Coalition leadership meeting at The Venetian on Saturday, one in which Trump and several speakers who preceded him blamed Democrats for the recent rise in politically motivated extremist violence while lobbing personal attacks at certain Democratic politicians, a group of local Democrats calmly waited at the Blind Center of Nevada while 1990s-era smooth jazz was playing in the background. Then when Senator Amy Klobuchar took the stage, she not only condemned Trump’s charged rhetoric, but also promised to do her part to put out his fire of fury.
“I believe it’s time for us to cross the rivers that divide us, and get to a higher plain for this country,” Klobuchar told the audience. She continued, “We need a bridge built on democracy to bring us together.”
Then, Klobuchar began to explain why she’s running for the opportunity to defeat Trump next year: “I am running for President because I see this President fracturing our community. Whenever there’s a fork in the road, [Trump] chooses to divide us. We must choose unity to bring people together.”
“Sometimes, the small things make the biggest difference.”
– Amy Klobuchar
Like many of the other Democrats running for President, Klobuchar comes from a working-class background: Her grandfather worked the iron ore mines in Northeast Minnesota’s Iron Range, her father worked his way from community college to the sports pages of the Star Tribune, and her mother spent decades in the classroom teaching second graders. But unlike some of the other Democrats running for President, Klobuchar emphasized local projects and targeted legislation. According to Klobuchar, “Sometimes, the small things make the biggest difference.”
Klobuchar cited everything from the recovery and rebuilding efforts after the August 2007 I-35W Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis and the passage of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act later that year to her current efforts to renew and enhance the Violence Against Women Act and expand retirement savings opportunities for more workers as examples of how seemingly “small” legislation can result in big change. She also cited a Vanderbilt University study that named her as the most effective Democratic Senator and fifth-most effective Senator overall of the (2017-18) 115th Congress as further proof that she can overcome the toughest of challenges to make a difference in people’s lives.
However Klobuchar didn’t shy away from explaining some of her bigger ideas, such as her “trillion dollar plan to build America’s infrastructure”. She not only explained how she intends to pay for it (a combination of rolling back some of Trump’s 2017 tax plan, launching new federal bond programs, and connecting state and local governments to private funds), but also contrasted Trump’s rhetoric with her determination to deliver: “The President promised a big infrastructure package, but it’s proven to be a mirage. He hasn’t delivered.”
“You think about the words of that innocent child. She didn’t even know what he was talking about. She only knows one home: That’s my state, that’s your state, that’s the United States of America.”
– Amy Klobuchar
While Trump’s record on delivering legislative success has been mixed at best, he continues to deliver record amounts of heated and bigoted rhetoric. Trump turned up the heat on his rhetoric again last Saturday, and Klobuchar had plenty to say during and after the program about Trump’s latest attacks on immigrant communities.
While speaking with local and national media after the program, Klobuchar stated, “I see immigrants in a very different way than the President. I see immigrants as not diminishing the country. Rather, I see that immigrants are our country. Everyone came from somewhere, and I see immigrants contribute to the economic strength of the country.”
Klobuchar then shared the story of a Somali-American family in her home state of Minnesota. One night while they were out, a man shouted at them, “You four go home, go back to where you come from!” Moments later, according to Klobuchar, “The little girl looked up to her mother and said, ‘Mom, I don’t want to eat dinner at home tonight. You said we could eat out!’” She then added, “You think about the words of that innocent child. She didn’t even know what he was talking about. She only knows one home: That’s my state, that’s your state, that’s the United States of America.”
As Trump continues to threaten to close the U.S.-Mexico border, divert more federal funds to “build the wall”, and double down further on his administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, Klobuchar insisted, “We must change the rhetoric, and we must obviously change the policies so we’re not stupidly cutting military construction projects here in Nevada. It’s also the heart, the way you talk about immigration, and the way we see this as an economic issue for our country.” Klobuchar also stated she’s looking for a “change of heart on ‘The Wall’ and how we spend money on security at the border” as Trump looks for a new Homeland Security Secretary after ousting Kirstjen Nielsen from that very position just moments before Klobuchar took the stage.
“I am a proven progressive. I get things done.”
– Amy Klobuchar
Whether it’s immigration reform, climate change, health care, infrastructure investment, or public education, Klobuchar probably has some ideas on how to address these issues and do so in a way she describes as very practical. As Klobuchar described her own style, “I am a proven progressive. I get things done.”
When asked how supporters can convince more Nevada Democrats to caucus for Klobuchar, she responded, “I’m someone who is honest. I’ll look you into the eye and tell you the challenges we face.” She later added, “I have a joy for politics. I like people. I like getting out there. I don’t like tweeting mean things early in the morning.”
She might not have the most progressive overall voting record, she might not be promising a “revolution”, and she might not be jumping on tables to mesmerize the room with rhetorical flourishes. But gosh darn it, Amy Klobuchar has her own ideas on how to make American democracy work again, and the mere presentation of her ideas served as a stark contrast to the predictably “unpredictable” chaos that defines Donald Trump’s presidency.