GOFFSTOWN — It came as no surprise that snow squalls and subfreezing temperatures served as the backdrop for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar as she made her first visit to New Hampshire as a presidential candidate.
“I announced my candidacy in the snow for a reason,” Klobuchar told an invitation-only crowd at The Village Trestle. “I wanted to show the nation that the bold north, the heartland, true grit is right there and matters in an election.”
The three-term Senator was quick to cast herself as an independently minded Democrat who could bridge the country’s partisan divide.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Klobuchar entered the national spotlight due in large part to her pointed questioning of Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his often contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
While she had little national name recognition prior to her role in the Kavanaugh hearings, the former Hennepin County Attorney has built bipartisan popularity in Minnesota, handily beating her Republican opponents by strong double digits in the 2006, 2012 and 2018 elections.
“In my last three elections, I have won every single congressional district in Minnesota — including Michele Bachmann’s,” Klobuchar said.
In a crowded field of candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Klobuchar hopes to use her Midwestern purple state credentials as a way to gain favor among the party’s more moderate wing, as evidenced by a less-than-subtle dig she took at 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton.
“We’re starting in Wisconsin because, as you remember, there wasn’t a lot of campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016. With me, that changes — I’m going to be there a lot,” Klobuchar said.
Village Trestle co-owner Brenda Cadieux said Klobuchar was the first Democratic candidate to ever stage a campaign event in her tavern.
Cadieux said that Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie each held meet-and-greet events at the Trestle during the 2016 primary, but noted that Klobuchar was the first candidate to request that the bar be closed during her visit.
During her 20-minute address, Klobuchar touched on a variety of hot-button issues, calling for a $15 federal minimum wage, a constitutional amendment to end big-money political campaign funding, and pledging to reinstate the U.S. in the Paris Agreement climate change pact.
“When I’m President, on Day 1 we will get back into the international climate change agreement,” she said.
But on the matter of healthcare, Klobuchar drew a key distinction from many of her fellow 2020 contenders by stopping short of supporting a Medicare-for-All approach and instead favoring an expansion of Medicaid.
“We need a public option so we can get to the point where we have universal healthcare,” Klobuchar said.
Ted Harrlow, a painting contractor from Goffstown, said he’s a fan of Klobuchar’s ability to apply a bipartisan approach to getting things done in what he refers to as a “post-Trump era” of politics.
Stating that a lot of his coworkers felt as if they wouldn’t or couldn’t vote for Clinton in 2016, Harrlow said Klobuchar has a sense of authenticity that he thinks can better appeal to Granite State voters.
“There’s a lack of pretense that she brings that I think all of us have as well,” Harrlow said of Klobuchar. “Her competency is key. The basic thing that I heard about Hillary from people I knew was that ‘She sounds like my ex-wife.’ I think Amy Klobuchar is incapable of crossing into that territory.”