Klobuchar attracts big crowds in primary’s final days

Greg Nash

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) believes her campaign is finishing strong in New Hampshire, where a top-three performance suddenly looks possible.

Klobuchar has drawn big crowds in the state over the past few days following a well-reviewed debate performance. Her campaign boasted of raising $1 million during Friday’s debate and $3 million over the weekend, signaling new interest.

She shot to third place behind Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg in two New Hampshire polls released recently. Enthusiasm and curiosity about Klobuchar also appear to be growing on the ground in the Granite State, which her supporters have dubbed “Klobmentum.”

“I know you have all beaten the odds or else you wouldn’t be here right now. That’s what I have done on this campaign. A lot of people didn’t think I was going to make it through that speech in the blizzard,” Klobuchar told the Rotary Club in Nashua at a more intimate gathering on Monday.

“A lot of people did not think I was going to make it through this summer, or make it to that debate stage, but I made it to that debate stage,” she continued. “And since that debate, our campaign has been surging.”

Tuesday will be judgment day: A finish in the top three ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) could leave Klobuchar poised to build her candidacy as a real alternative to Sanders and Buttigieg, who have been seen as the front-runners in New Hampshire.

But it has also raised expectations, meaning a poor result could lead to pressure on Klobuchar to end her campaign.

The prospect of a strong finish in New Hampshire comes even as the three-term centrist senator came in fifth in the Iowa caucuses. But she escaped much of the scrutiny after a disappointing performance from Biden and a slew of technical errors dominated the headlines.

Klobuchar has stressed her experience and moderate record, at a time when some Democratic voters are concerned about Sanders becoming the party’s nominee, while doubts remain about Buttigieg’s thin résumé as a two-term mayor of South Bend, Ind.

Voters say they appreciate Klobuchar’s unifying message and temperament.

“Amy is calm, and she certainly has, in my view, the experience working across the aisle,” Monica, an undecided Nashua voter who’s leaning toward Warren, told The Hill at a Klobuchar campaign event. “She talks about all of the number of bills she has her name on, and Bernie, not so much.”

She’s also increasingly seen as the leading female candidate in the race as Warren falls in support.

“I am tired of old, white men,” Monica said. “Why can’t in America, can we elect a woman? My God, we need a woman president. We need that viewpoint.”

Klobuchar will need more support and resources to keep her campaign afloat going into Nevada and South Carolina, making a strong performance in New Hampshire that much more critical.

Her campaign ended 2019 with roughly $5 million cash on hand, far behind Sanders and Buttigieg. 

Klobuchar will also need to close the gap with the leading candidates, despite shooting to third place in recent New Hampshire polls.

An Emerson College poll released Sunday showed Sanders at 30 percent, followed by Buttigieg at 20 percent and Klobuchar at 13 percent. A separate Suffolk University conducted with the Boston Globe and WBZ-TV survey showed Sanders at 25 percent support, Buttigieg at 22 percent and Klobuchar at 16 percent.

For now, New Hampshire primary voters are testing the waters with Klobuchar, who is getting more local and state media coverage than she normally does on the campaign trail.

The Minnesota senator was swarmed by hordes of reporters and photographers as she left the Rotary Club lunch in Nashua.

“We became aware that Klobuchar is beginning to rise up in the polls,” Marsha Donaldson, a Republican voter who attended the lunch with friends, told The Hill. “So, we wanted to hear what she had to say.”

On Sunday, hundreds of voters stood outside of Fairgrounds Middle School in Nashua in light snow and 26-degree weather, waiting to hear Klobuchar make her case.

A whopping 1,100 people were admitted into the school where Klobuchar joked that she “brought the snow,” and voters lined up after her remarks in a “selfie-style” line similar to those seen at Warren rallies.

“She did very well at the debate Friday night,” Julie, an undecided Nashua voter, said as she waited to get into the event. “I do like Amy a lot. I thought that this would be a chance to see her not in the debate, and in a more friendly locale.”

Tags 2020 New Hampshire primary Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden New Hampshire primary Pete Buttigieg
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