Klobuchar to make presidential pitch in CNN town hall

Sen. Amy Klobuchar will take to the national stage on Monday headlining a CNN town hall in New Hampshire to make her most public case yet for why she should be the next President of the United States.

Klobuchar spent the lead-up to the town hall with a trip through Wisconsin and Iowa, building on her campaign theme of retaking Midwest communities that have drifted away from Democrats in recent years. Klobuchar, a three-term senator from Minnesota, is pitching herself as a pragmatic lawmaker who is willing to work with those who oppose her to get things done.

“I am running because I see that sense of community is getting fractured,” Klobuchar said on Sunday in Iowa. “It’s getting fractured by someone in the White House who gets up every morning and tweets whatever he wants but doesn’t respect the amendment that allows him to do it.”

The town hall format is familiar for Klobuchar, who has found success in her home state — which almost went for President Donald Trump in 2016 — by consciously visiting each of Minnesota’s 87 counties, often to hold town-hall style events.

A Klobuchar aide told CNN on Monday that the senator prepared for the town hall like she would for a major interview.

Most of the questions on Monday will come from New Hampshire voters, an electorate which prizes its position as the first-in-the-nation primary and is often known for asking discerning and pointed questions.

“This is New Hampshire, anything could happen,” she said when asked about the town hall at an event earlier in the day.

At her event in Goffstown, Klobuchar pitching herself as a candidate who can win independent and lean Republican voters. She pledged “to go everywhere, not just where it is comfortable, but where it is uncomfortable” and outlined a platform that included overturning Citizens United, reinstating the Voting Rights Act, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and getting on the path toward a public option for health care.

Klobuchar, who announced her presidential campaign during a snowy outdoor event in Minneapolis earlier this month, is the third potential presidential hopeful to appear at a CNN town hall. Sen. Kamala Harris appeared at an event hosted by Jake Tapper and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is considering an independent bid for the presidency, headlined a town hall hosted by Poppy Harlow.

Klobuchar is markedly more centrist than many of the other Democrats running for President, including some of her colleagues in the Senate. Klobuchar has a liberal voting record, but she does not support abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill — instead pushing to lower the age when people are allowed to buy into the government health care program.

“We must move to universal health care. And I am so proud of the work we did as a party to protect the Affordable Car Act,” Klobuchar said Sunday. “We are to the point now where Obamacare is more popular than the President.”

Klobuchar’s primary pitch to voters is likely to be electability. The Democrat has been notably successful in Minnesota, winning her three terms in the Senate by an average of 26 percentage points. Klobuchar won re-election in 2018 with 60% of the vote, two years after Trump came within two points of defeating Hillary Clinton in the state.

“I want to build on the momentum that we saw here in 2018,” Klobuchar told reporters Saturday in Wisconsin. “No one ever thought that the Democrats were going to be able (to defeat) Gov. Walker, but we did it, and we did it in a smart, Wisconsin way with a grassroots campaign with (Democratic Sen.) Tammy Baldwin at the top of the ticket, and we can do it in the presidential, as well.”

Klobuchar’s electability in Minnesota, which has largely come by taking more politically moderate positions, has some Democrats questioning whether the senator will be able to capture the imagination of a party that has drifted to the left nationally.

Additionally, a spate of negative headlines about Klobuchar’s demanding management style have trickled out around her 2020 announcement.

Klobuchar has admitted that she can be “too tough” on her staff in response to the stories.

“I know I can be too tough sometimes and I can push too hard,” she told MSNBC earlier this month. “That is obvious. But a lot of it is I have high expectations for myself and I have high expectations for people who work with me.”