GOFFSTOWN — If Amy Klobuchar wants to drive one particular point home, it’s that she can build successful political coalitions in ways that many others cannot, especially President Donald Trump.
Sen. Klobuchar (D-Minn.) took the stage at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College on Friday afternoon with John Heilemann, editor-in-chief of The Recount and co-host of Showtime’s The Circus, at the first edition of “Politics Unplugged: 2020.”
Klobuchar took questions from Heilemann and an assembled audience, with answers largely revolving around the importance of pragmatic solutions for America’s problems.
She contrasted this to what she sees as divisive and counterproductive policies espoused by Trump and his administration in topics ranging from college debt to protecting American elections from foreign interference.
For Klobuchar, this failed approach comes from Trump’s inability to realize that the President should represent all Americans.
“I come from a tradition where you’re supposed to go to work and do your job, “she said. “The whole premise is that you don’t always get along with your neighbors, that’s true, but you find a way to do it. When you get elected to office, your job is to represent your neighbors and go and do your best.”
While praising the impeachment hearings testimony of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, Lt. Col Alexander Vindman and former White House employee Fiona Hill, Klobuchar aimed to tread carefully in discussing the procedures of the impeachment process, instead focusing on criticism of Trump. She urged the assembled audience to talk with their friends and family about issues being brought up by the impeachment hearings.
“In the end, this is about a President who puts private interests before public interests,” she said. “You can debate what they think should happen here, that’s okay, but you can’t take away from those people who testified, because every day they go to work regardless of who the President is and they go to work because they believe in our country.”
In addition to criticism of Trump, Klobuchar also criticized Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate for stalling bills intended to prevent future school shootings and election security, but praised other past and present Republican Senators for instances where they could come together and find solutions for all Americans.
That mix of praise and criticism was evident when Klobuchar discussed her fellow Democratic presidential candidates, particularly South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
In response to questioning from Heilemann, Klobuchar said she was glad that there was healthy debate in the Democratic Party, something she feels that the Republican Party has lost. She also said that Buttigieg is qualified to become President, but he might not be seen as qualified if he were a woman given the fact that he has not won statewide office .
When Heilemann asked if Buttigieg had flip-flopped on his healthcare policy positions between his time running for chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2017 and his current campaign, Klobuchar said that Buttigieg should have admitted he made a mistake, saying that evolving opinions are fine as long as they are combined with honesty.
Klobuchar didn’t directly call Buttigieg dishonest, something she explicitly called Trump during the event. Instead she implied that many of the policies of her opponents lacked a level of pragmatism needed to attract independents, moderate Republicans and Democrats from states that swung to Trump in 2016.
Throughout the event, Klobuchar attacked what she viewed as unrealistic plans in areas like healthcare and higher education, circling back to her emphasis on honesty and focusing on improvement instead of wholesale revolution.
Here, she referenced recent state election results in Kentucky and Virginia and how realistic and inclusive campaigns helped Democrats to victory and that path is the only way Democrats can win nationally. She paired that with the ongoing impeachment proceedings on why it is so vital for Democrats to retake the White House next year.
“The stakes are too high, as we saw this week,” said Klobuchar. “We cannot afford to screw this up.”