- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota on Sunday launched her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on a Mississippi River bank, promising a crowd braving the cold and snow that she will “lead from the heart” and fight to move the country away from “the petty and vicious nature of our politics.”

“Today on an island in the middle of the mighty Mississippi, in our nation’s heartland, in a time when we must heal the heart of our democracy and renew our commitment to the common good, I stand before you — as the granddaughter of an iron ore miner, as a daughter of a teacher and a newspaper man, as the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the state of Minnesota — to announce my candidacy for president of the United States,” Ms. Klobuchar said from Boom Island Park, Minneapolis.

The announcement followed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s official campaign kickoff Saturday in front of an old Lawrence, Massachusetts, brick textile mill that was the site of one of the nation’s most historic labor strikes.

Both backdrops underscored the candidates’ respective messages, with Ms. Klobuchar presenting herself as a down-to-earth, left-of-center, Midwestern pragmatist, and Ms. Warren presenting herself as a liberal warrior laser-focused on reshaping a political and economic system that she says has been “rigged” by the wealthy and well-connected.

“We are tired of the shutdown and the showdowns, of the gridlock and the grandstanding,” Ms. Klobuchar said Sunday. “Today on this snowy day on this island we say, ‘Enough is enough!’”

“I don’t have a political machine,” Ms. Klobuchar said, her hair caked in snow. “I don’t come from money, but what I do have is this — I have grit.”

The 58-year-old said it is time to get “dark money” out of politics, strengthen voting rights, combat climate change, and to enact universal background checks for all gun purchases. She called for universal health care, “comprehensive immigration reform” and closing tax loopholes that benefit the rich.

Ms. Klobuchar took jabs at President Trump, saying members of the military and diplomats “deserve better than a foreign policy by tweet” and saying it is time to “stop the fear-mongering and the stop the hate.”

Mr. Trump promptly threw a verbal snowball right back at her, chuckling via Twitter on Sunday afternoon about how Ms. Klobuchar was “talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Bad timing. By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!”

Ms. Warren also took aim at Mr. Trump on Saturday, saying he is “a product of a rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else.”

The 69-year-old said it “won’t be enough just to undo the terrible acts of this administration.”

“We can’t afford to tinker around the edges with a tax credit here, a regulation there. Our fight is for big structural change.”

Ms. Warren and Ms. Klobuchar join fellow female Sens. Kamala D. Harris of California and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York in a field of contenders that is expected to continue to grow.

Political observers say both women face individual challenges.

Ms. Klobuchar has been dogged by reports about how she has mistreated her staff and by doubts over whether a centrist can resonate in a primary election dominated by liberal activists.

Ms. Warren, meanwhile, has struggled to put her past claims of American Indian ancestry behind her thanks in part to a report in The Washington Post last week that unearthed a Texas bar application in which she identified herself in writing as “American Indian.”

The Republican National Committee welcomed both candidates into the race by pointing out their flaws.

“It’s tough to find any base of support for Amy Klobuchar’s candidacy,” said RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens. “She has virtually no grass-roots backing and even her own staff is complaining that she’s ‘intolerably cruel.’”

Mr. Ahrens said Ms. Warren’s “disastrous handling of her false minority claims and her refusal to apologize until now has everyone, including her own supporters, cringing at her campaign.”

A Monmouth University poll released showed Ms. Warren ranked third in the 2020 Democratic race behind a couple of perspective candidates — former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont.

Ms. Klobuchar was running toward the back of the pack, with almost 40 percent of respondents saying they have never heard of her.

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