MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota–Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) officially declared her candidacy for President of the United States Sunday during a snowy rally on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.
Several of her Minnesotan colleagues spoke before her, including Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan (D-MN) and Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN). Klobuchar’s Senate counterpart, Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN), touted Klobuchar’s record of supporting Planned Parenthood, and criticized Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh for his alleged failure to adequately address Klobuchar’s line of questioning during his confirmation process.
Prince, naturally, was invoked several times throughout the event and one of his former collaborators, DJ Dudley D, emceed the occasion.
— Anthony Gockowski (@AGockowski) February 10, 2019
“Hey, if Prince could do that halftime show in all that rain, I can do this in this snow,” Klobuchar joked.
Despite the blizzard-like conditions, Klobuchar managed to attract a massive crowd that was estimated at around 9,000 people.
She began her address by thanking her “amazing and incredible team and staff for putting this together.” Leading up to her announcement, Buzzfeed News and Huffington Post released separate reports detailing Klobuchar’s abusive behavior toward her staff, which included claims that she “yelled, threw papers, and sometimes even hurled objects.”
“We are gathered here today on this beautiful Mississippi river—America’s great river, straight through the middle of our country, through the heartland,” Klobuchar began after completing her thank-you’s. It became clear that the location of Sunday’s event was strategically picked to align with Klobuchar’s theme of uniting America’s heartland. She continued to wax poetic about the Mississippi River, saying:
It then gets wider as it flows down here to the Twin Cities, and then to Wisconsin where my mom was born, and then down to Iowa—a place where we in Minnesota like to go south for the winter. And then to Illinois, a state that boasts a lot of extraordinary presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama. Then that river meanders down to St. Louis where you’ll find a big arch, a gateway that honors our country’s pioneers.
Onwards to Kentucky and Memphis, Tennessee where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went one April day to join sanitation workers fighting for their dignity. Where he preached about the mountaintop and how he’d seen the promised land. And then to Arkansas and Mississippi, all the way down to New Orleans where the spirit of resilience abounds.
The Mississippi river, all our rivers, connect us to one another, to our shared story. For that is how this country was founded, with patriots who saw more that united them than divided them. And that is how this city—the Mill City—and our country prospered, right along this river and our nation’s railways and roads, grounded in the common belief that prosperity shared leads to better lives for all. And this is how we became the world’s beacon of democracy, one in which everyone matters.
Klobuchar went on to discuss the tragic 2007 I-35W bridge collapse, which killed 13 and left hundreds more injured. The catastrophic event, Klobuchar believes, demonstrated the strength of Minnesota’s community.
“We start in this place where about a mile down the river on a beautiful summer day a big bridge collapsed into this river. I said on that day that a bridge just shouldn’t fall down in the middle of America—not one of the busiest bridges in our state, not a bridge just a few blocks from our home where John, and Abigail and I drove over nearly every day. But it happened,” she said.
She recalled the heroic stories that were later uncovered from that day, noting:
“Suddenly the eyes of the nation were on our state, and that day America saw in a very visceral way that everyone matters, everyone. They saw it in that off-duty firefighter who dove into the murky water, over and over again looking through those cars and trucks submerged for survivors.
They saw it in the story of Paul Eickstadt, the semi-truck driver who sacrificed his own life by veering off the road to save a school bus full of kids. They saw it in the school staff member, Jeremy Hernandez, who rescued each and every kid on that miracle school bus as it hung precariously next to a guardrail after plummeting thirty feet. Later, we worked across the aisle to get the federal funding and we rebuilt that I-35W bridge—in just over a year. That’s community. That’s a shared story. That’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
From this story, and the history of the Mississippi River, Klobuchar’s message emerged.
“My friends, that sense of community is fracturing across our nation right now, worn down by the petty and vicious nature of our politics,” the three-term Minnesota senator said. “We are all tired of the shutdowns and showdowns, the gridlock and the grandstanding. Today, on this snowy island, we say enough is enough.”
“So today, on an island in the middle of the mighty Mississippi, in our nation’s heartland, at a time when we must heal the heart of our democracy and renew our commitment to the common good, I stand before you as a granddaughter of an iron-ore miner, as the daughter of a teacher and a newspaper man, as the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the state of Minnesota, to announce my candidacy for President of the United States,” Klobuchar declared.
Klobuchar touched on a number of specific issues throughout her address Sunday, and repeatedly encouraged her supports to stop seeing “obstacles as obstacles,” but as “our path.”
“This is what I mean: there are insidious forces every day that are trying to make it harder for people to vote, trying to drown out our voices with big money. It is time to organize, time to galvanize, time to take back our democracy. It’s time, America,” she said. Klobuchar frequently used the slogan of “it’s time, America,” a possible campaign slogan.
On the issue of climate change, Klobuchar claimed that the “people are on our side when it comes to climate change.”
“Why? Because like you and I they believe in science,” she said to thunderous applause. As president, Klobuchar said she would reinstate “the clean power rules and gas mileage standards and put forth sweeping legislation to invest in green jobs and infrastructure.”
“And on day one, we will rejoin the International Climate Agreement,” she added. As The Minnesota Sun reported Sunday, Klobuchar is one of 10 co-sponsors of the Senate version of the Green New Deal resolution.
Klobuchar then blasted “big-tech companies” for failing to protect users’ identities and mining their data.
“Our laws must be as sophisticated as the people who are breaking them,” she said. “We must revamp our nation’s cybersecurity and guarantee net neutrality for all. And we need to end the digital divide by pledging to connect every household to the internet by 2022 and that means you, rural America.”
She briefly made a case for promoting more vocational programming and technical degrees, saying it’s time for “respecting and recognizing educational certifications and two-year degrees, and making it easier for people to get them.”
Klobuchar later turned to attacking the Republican tax plan as one that is “designed by and for the wealthy” before moving on to the issue of health care.
“That it what I mean by shared prosperity. But we can’t get there if people can’t afford their health care, and that means getting universal health care and bringing down the cost of prescription drugs,” she said, and told the story of a woman who lost her son because he could no longer afford the cost of insulin.
“This disgrace should never happen in the United States of America. Not with a simple drug that’s been around for a century. The obstacle to change? The big pharma companies think they own Washington. Well they don’t own me,” Klobuchar added.
Finally, Klobuchar received another booming applause when calling for “universal background checks and common sense gun legislation.”
“E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. It is more than a motto, America. It is the north star of our democracy, it is the north star of our effort,” Klobuchar concluded, asking voters in attendance to join her campaign:
I am asking you to join this campaign. It is a homegrown one. I don’t have a political machine. I don’t come from money. But what I do have is this: I have grit. I have family, I have friends, I have neighbors, and I have all of you who are willing to come out in the middle of winter—all of you who took the time to watch us today from home. All of you who are willing to stand up and say people matter.
I’m asking you not to look down, and not to look away anymore. I’m asking you to look up, to look at each other, to look at the future before us. Let us rise to the occasion and meet the challenges of our day. Let us cross the river of our divides and walk across our sturdy bridge to higher ground. To pursue the good, we must believe that good will prevail.
As he did with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), President Donald Trump was quick to react to Klobuchar’s announcement.
“Well, it happened again. Amy Klobuchar announced that she is running for president, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures,” Trump tweeted. “Bad timing. By the end of her speech she looked like a snowman (woman).”
Well, it happened again. Amy Klobuchar announced that she is running for President, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Bad timing. By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2019
The Minnesota GOP criticized Klobuchar for trying to have it “both ways” in a Sunday afternoon statement.
“Klobuchar appears to want to position herself as a moderate from heartland USA in a party that is rapidly embracing Socialism,” the statement read. “She touts bipartisanship but supports arguably the most progressive piece of legislation, the Green New Deal, ever introduced in Congress. Throughout her time in the Senate, Klobuchar made a career of having it both ways, accomplishing little simply to appease everyone. It’s time to choose, Senator Klobuchar.”
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