United States Senate candidate and county attorney Amy Klobuchar stopped in Park Rapids Sunday to talk about why people want to see change in Washington.
Introducing Klobuchar, state Sen. Rod Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook) laid out three reasons he'd like to see a change at the nation's capitol. "A staying the course mentality in Iraq will not bring positive outcomes;" "the growing deficit is threatening the country's economic security;" and "we can do better to solve the health care mess we're in."
"Instead of hearing about what's right and what's left," Klobuchar said, "we need to talk about what's right and what's wrong."
Sunday morning news reports said polls showed Klobuchar leading her Republican opponent Mark Kennedy 52 percent to 36 percent in the race for the senate seat being vacated by Mark Dayton.
"People are ready for change," she told an audience of 70 supporters at the Park Rapids Area Library.
Klobuchar attributes the support she's seen for her campaign in outstate Minnesota to the fact that rural residents feel squeezed. "You feel it first," she said, of rising health insurance premiums that mean families have less disposable income, higher gas prices that affect rural residents who drive a long ways to work, and increases in tuition.
"There's so much unity about what are the main issues: energy independence, health care and fiscal responsibility," she said.
"In Congress they need a moral compass. Right now, the only compass points in one direction - to George W. Bush. When I'm elected I'm not following the Lone Star (of Texas), but the North Star (of Minnesota)."
Klobuchar said her idea of fiscal responsibility is "pay as you go," eliminating discretionary spending, no-bid contracts and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Klobuchar also has a plan to fill the "doughnut hole" gap in the current Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit and favors negotiated prices for prescription drugs. She called the Medicare Part D legislation "a $90 billion Christmas present to drug companies."
Congress also needs a comprehensive energy policy and to invest in the farmers of the Midwest, "not just the cartels of the Mid East," Klobuchar said. "We need to take on the oil companies. That would be good for Minnesota and for the environment." US dependence on foreign oil, she said, "has gotten us into entanglements."
While Klobuchar said she does not support an immediate pullout of US troops in Iraq or setting a deadline for them to come home, she believes the responsible thing to do is to "start to bring our troops home in a responsible way."
She said she would not be "a rubber stamp" for the administration's policies, but would ask the tough questions and continue to push for solutions.
As the campaign continues, Klobuchar predicted Republicans "are going to try to divide us geographically." But, she said, "The things that bring us together are greater than the things that divide us.
"I've always been a tough fighter," said Klobuchar, adding someone recently labeled her "a street fighter from the Iron Range."
"We need a few street fighters from the Iron Range in Washington," she said. "What's wrong in Washington is they're not listening."
Klobuchar's "North Star" tour Sunday started in Red Lake Falls with stops in Mahnomen, Bagley, Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes, where 7th District Cong. Collin Peterson said he needed Klobuchar in Washington so he would have an ally in the Senate to work on the issues important to Minnesotans.
"I need an ally in the Senate who I can count on - whose word is good," Peterson said. "That's why I am here today. Amy gets it. You can count on her."
Klobuchar said she would seek a seat on the Agriculture Committee in the Senate because she wants to make sure Minnesota farmers get a fair deal in the 2007 Farm Bill.
With her stop in Detroit Lakes, Klobuchar has now visited 86 of Minnesota's 87 counties.