Parsing a Klobuchar run: Why Minnesota’s senior senator should run for president — and why she shouldn’t
ST. PAUL — Do it Senator! Wait, no, don’t do it, Senator!
Fans, critics and political eggheads are all weighing in on U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is considering running for president in 2020.
The Minnesota political rumor mill officially went into bonkers mode Tuesday when news broke that — maybe — an event planned for Minneapolis this weekend might be Klobuchar announcing she’ll run for president. Or not.
Either way, here are a few arguments for and against #Klobuchar2020.
Why she should
She's a Dem Goldilocks: Not too left, not too center; just right for Democrats looking for a contrast to President Donald Trump — but leery about all those further-left candidates. Those most-progressive candidates — think: Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker — are making left-field crowded, some think, leaving a gap in left-center for Klobuchar. Code word for this: “electability.”
She kept her cool with Kavanaugh: Whatever you think about the Senate’s confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Klobuchar got her 15 minutes of fame during it. Closer to five minutes, actually, but that works better for YouTube. For many Americans, this defined her — in a good way: polite but unflinching. Any doubts of the reach of that moment? Just open Google and start typing “Klobuchar and”; there’s only one place the crowd wants you to go.
Code word here: “temperament.” It was a contrast to Kavanaugh, and anti-Trumpers say she’s a great contrast to Trump. Whether anyone actually reads her autobiography or not, its title, “The Senator Next Door,” strikes the right tone, many say, and also sets her apart from angry Democrats.
George Will, the conservative columnist whose disdain for Trump has nearly endeared him to liberals, said this about Klobuchar in a recent column: “Her special strength, however, is her temperament. Baseball, it has been said, is not a game you can play with your teeth clenched. That is also true of politics, another day-by-day game with a long season: It requires an emotional equipoise, a blend of relaxation and concentration, stamina leavened by cheerfulness. Klobuchar laughs easily and often.”
She's a she: Every political wonk — and about half the field of candidates so far — seem to think that being a woman is an asset this year. Among the reasons: contrast to Trump, #MeToo, about time. According to Steven Schier, professor emeritus of political science at Carleton College, should a man get the Democratic nomination, Klobuchar might be able to position herself for the vice presidency. “Given Trump’s profile, having a woman on the ticket somewhere would work well for Democrats,” Schier says.
She's got nothing to lose: At 58, entering her third term, and having won all of her races by double-digit margins, Klobuchar seems as safe a bet to have a long Senate career ahead of her as anyone. As long as she doesn’t make some sort of a major gaffe, what’s the risk?
Why she shouldn't
She's 'just another face'? It’s one thing to have a moment during a Senate hearing, but it’s entirely another to bring thousands to their feet with soaring oratory (Barack Obama) or cathartic populism (Trump). Can the senator next door rally the masses?
“Just another face in the crowd — that’s her biggest problem,” says Schier, noting that it’s a big crowd of hopefuls. “She’s not likely to do stunts because that’s not her temperament, but she’s got to find a way to get her name out there. … I just don’t think she’s in the top tier of candidates right now.”
And without getting her name out there …
She will need money, and lots of it: No money, no campaign. Klobuchar will have to figure how to keep up with the likes of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who’s got a head start and wider name recognition, and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, who raised more than $200 million in 2016. If former vice president Joe Biden enters the race, he’ll be a money magnet.
She's from Minnesota: No Minnesotan ever becomes president. Ever.