Sen. Amy Klobuchar squared off against her Republican challenger State Rep. Jim Newberger at the Minnesota State Fair Friday, sparring over issues of immigration and President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the United States Supreme Court.
Immediately out of the gate, Klobuchar boasted a record of being the lead sponsor on 18 different bills signed into law by President Trump.
“You need someone that can find common ground but is also willing to be a check and balance on this administration,” she said, representing a state that is growing increasingly purple as 78 out of its 87 counties went to Trump during the 2016 Election.
Newberger, who worked as a paramedic for 30 years before seeking office, argued that it is time for a fresh face in Washington, suggesting that Klobuchar is a prime example of why Congress needs “term limits.”
“Eighteen years folks is a long time to be in the swamp,” he said, claiming earlier in the debate that he will be a voice for the “moderate-middle to the conservative right.”
“You have not had a voice for almost a decade. Folks, it’s time that you had a voice. It’s time you had a senator that does something for you,” Newberger suggested, calling his opponent a “rubber-stamp” progressive.
Newberger was later pressed on immigration, saying he would support Trump’s border-wall plan.
“We must build the wall. We must secure our border,” he said, comparing open borders to leaving a house unlocked at night.
“If that doesn’t bother you, then leave it wide open, and let anyone who wants to come into your house and do what they care to do,” he continued, adding that the tragic death of Mollie Tibbetts could have been prevented with immigration reform.
“If we would have had comprehensive immigration reform where we knew who was coming across our border, would Mollie have been killed in Iowa?” he asked, prompting his opponent to criticize him for politicizing Tibbetts’ death.
“First of all, the family has asked that people not politicize this tragic death,” Klobuchar responded, though did add that Tibbetts’ killer should be prosecuted accordingly.
The two then discussed Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, whom Klobuchar said she will not support.
“When you look at the record of this nominee, you see someone who has not been in the mainstream,” the two-term senator argued, though Newberger accused Klobuchar and her colleagues of attempting to “change [the] court with political amibitions.”
Newberger and Klobuchar later sparred over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which the Republican referred to as a distraction from the real issues. While Klobuchar dodged questions of whether she believes Trump in particular behaved unlawfully, she did criticize Republicans for plotting to shut down the investigation.
“I think we have to get to the bottom of the truth,” she said.
Klobuchar and Newberger will face off in November’s election for one of two available senatorial seats in the state.