Back from impeachment, Klobuchar seeks Iowa surprise

Back from impeachment, Klobuchar seeks Iowa surprise
© Greg Nash

BETTENDORF, Iowa — By the time Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Judd Gregg: Bloomberg rising MORE (D-Minn.) appeared at Crawford Brew Works on Saturday morning, the bar was crowded with Iowans from one end of the bar to the other.  

The midwestern senator made her first appearance of the week in the state after spending most of past two weeks in Washington, D.C., at President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE's impeachment trial. Back on the campaign trail, Klobuchar is trying to gather momentum in the Hawkeye State.

"I guess we should always have events in breweries at 10 a.m." Klobuchar quipped to the crowd of 500 to hoots and hollers. 

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Despite the time spent in the nation's capital, the Minnesota Democrat appears to be surging at the right time in Iowa as a spate of polls over the past week show her in double digits. An Emerson survey showed her at 13 percent support, good for third in the primary field. She's also been the recipient of multiple key endorsements in recent weeks, including the Quad-City Times and The New York Times. 

Her events on Saturday were robust as she spoke to standing room only crowds across the state, including an appearance on Saturday evening that attracted 200, with many lining the walls and spilling into the lobby of the entrance.  

"I am the candidate on the march, on the surge," Klobuchar said, adding that she is "punching above her weight" as she lacks the resources others have in the race. 

Speaking for nearly 30 minutes, Klobuchar pitched herself as the candidate best positioned to take on the president in November, a messaged underscored on green campaign t-shirts many in the crowd donned: "Amy Klobuchar will beat Donald Trump," with the back featuring a laundry list of talking points. 

Supporters of the Minnesota senator credit her rise to her ability to connect with the electorate, which Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan referred to in an interview as her "superpower."

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Specifically, Klobuchar is targeting rural counties across Iowa, especially those along the Iowa-Minnesota border, but is trying to play catch-up in the final days after spending the majority of her time in Washington for the trial.

After zig-zagging the state in her campaign plane to four stops on Saturday, she is slated to hold three more in Cedar Rapids, Mason City and Johnstown on Sunday.

"You know me — I'm not competitive at all, so I'm sure it never bothered me as I saw my opponents trekking through Iowa," she joked to reporters after the first event about the past two weeks. "The truth is I have faith and you can see this crowd here that people get that I was doing my job, and that they actually see that as a positive." 

"They actually see that being in the arena, not just switching the channel and watching cartoons as one of my opponents suggested," she continued, referring to comments made by former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Bloomberg hits Sanders supporters in new ad MORE. "That being in the arena matters, that experience matters and getting things done matters." 

Prior to Saturday morning's event, Val Horvat, 62, a native of Bettendorf and self-described moderate, indicated that her decision of who to caucus for was down to Klobuchar and Buttigieg. However, Klobuchar sealed the deal with her appearance.

"She's so intelligent. She's got that experience, she's got the Washington experience. She's working across the aisle to get things done there. She can do that," Horvat said. "I think that's key ... She's a bulldog, but she's kind and she gets things done."

Klobuchar’s name was also frequently mentioned by undecided caucus-goers at events held by her competitors on Thursday and Friday ahead of Monday’s caucuses, which are vital to the viability of her campaign as she remains a big underdog in the remaining early-voting states. 

However, the question remains for Klobuchar's campaign: Is it too little too late? For her supporters, they're holding out hope that it isn't.

"The fact that she’s surging will flow into New Hampshire," said Iowa state Rep. Cindy Winckler, who introduced Klobuchar at the morning event. "I hope Iowans come through."