By Justin Sink
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) told an Iowa crowd Friday that she was "serious" about continuing to represent her state in the Senate — while slyly noting that the Hawkeye State "has gained notoriety for picking the country's presidents."
The two-term Minnesota senator kicked off a two-day swing through Iowa Friday night with an appearance at the annual "Wing Ding" fundraiser benefiting local Democratic candidates, prompting speculation that she could be considering a 2016 presidential bid.
But Klobuchar insisted that she was primarily focused on representing her state in the Senate.
Still, Klobuchar acknowledged the role the state's caucuses play in determining the presidential nominees.
“You are the state that has gained notoriety for picking the country's presidents, and we are the state - thanks to the great Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale - that supplied the country with vice presidents,” she said.
“In fact, it is a longtime tradition in Minnesota that new moms, gushing with pride, bounce their babies on their knee and say one day you can grow up to be vice president,” she quipped, according to CNN.
Klobuchar has been long rumored as a potential presidential candidate, named by The New York Times as among the women most likely to become the first female president. But early polling suggests her 2016 candidacy would remain a long shot if former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or, to a lesser extent, Vice President Joe Biden opts to seek the party's nomination.
Even Republicans in the state read her appearance as a sign she could be interested in a bid for the White House.
“I’m sure she’s coming here to lay the groundwork in case Hillary Clinton doesn’t run,” Iowa Republican National Committee committeeman Steve Scheffler told Iowa's Quad-City Times. "If she doesn’t run, [Klobuchar] wants to have a shot at it."
Aside from some subtle hinting at 2016, Klobuchar's remarks focused mostly on attacking House Republicans for failing to pass farm and immigration bills.
"It's time to tell the Republicans in the House that the people of this country want the keys to that desk drawer," Klobuchar said, according to Minnesota Public Radio. "They want representatives coming to the negotiating table to hammer out a comprise that works for the American people, they want representatives who are there for them, not ones that have taken a pledge to uphold a rigid ideology."
She also spent time praising Rep. Bruce Bailey (D-Iowa), the likely Democratic candidate seeking to replace Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) next year. Klobuchar thanked Bailey for his help drafting a military sexual assault bill, and urged voters there to ready for a tough election.
“You're the Hawkeye State, right? For generations, you've never backed down from a challenge. Your ancestors settled a windblown prairie and turned it into a place that feeds the world. You've given the country pioneers and leaders in political courage,” she said, according to CNN. “This is what I’m asking you to do: Just like my grandpa would do everyday…put those boots on again, because you guys do it well. Put those hard hats on again, square your shoulders, and get ready for this next election.”