Klobuchar is a worthy candidate, getting no attention

Klobuchar is a worthy candidate, getting no attention
© Greg Nash

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (D-Minn.) has sterling credentials. She received an undergraduate degree from Yale University and a law degree from the University of Chicago (where one of her classmates was former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE). She served for eight years as the District Attorney for Hennepin County which includes Minneapolis and its suburbs. She is 58 and in her third term in the U.S. Senate.

Her legal background has served her well. She sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which recently heard testimony on the Mueller Report from Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Correctional officers subpoenaed in Epstein investigation: report Nadler asks other House chairs to provide records that would help panel in making impeachment decision MORE.

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Last week’s Judiciary Committee hearing on the Mueller Report illustrated the challenge facing Klobuchar’s presidential campaign. She aggressively and effectively questioned the attorney general. But the media coverage of the hearing was dominated by one of her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (D-Calif.) who also serves on the committee. 

Klobuchar is playing Gayle KingGayle KingMichelle Obama to present Lin-Manuel Miranda with the Portrait of a Nation Prize Marianne Williamson: Oprah is 'absolutely not' advising me on presidential run CBS's Gayle King asks Pressley whether calling Trump 'occupant' of the Oval Office is respectful MORE to Harris’ Oprah WinfreyOprah Gail WinfreyMichelle Obama: 'There's zero chance' I run for president Michael Moore urges Michelle Obama to run against Trump Marianne Williamson: Oprah is 'absolutely not' advising me on presidential run MORE. Harris raised more than twice as much money as the Klobuchar did in the first quarter of this year. Harris also has made a dent in national polls which Klobuchar has not been able to do.

Off to the races

To this point, Klobuchar’s candidacy has had little impact on the campaign to win the Democratic presidential nomination. She barely registers in the national polls. But she has raised enough money and has enough standing in the polls to qualify for the first Democratic presidential debate next month. 

A new national survey by the Washington Post and ABC News indicates that former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Moulton says Biden would make 'fantastic president' MORE leads the field with 39 percent of the vote only days after announcing that he would run for president. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court MORE (I-Vt.) came in second with 15 percent. Next in line were Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Keystone XL Pipeline gets nod from Nebraska Supreme Court MORE (D-Mass.) at 8 percent, South Bend, Indi. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Buttigieg unveils plan to strengthen mental health care, fight addiction MORE at 7 percent, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke at 6 percent and Kamala Harris at 5 percent. The other candidates including Klobuchar barely register at all.

Both Democratic front runners are men but 2020 could be the Year of the Woman in presidential politics. Politics like nature abhors a vacuum. The two male front runners have soft leads and a woman could easily charge into the vacuum if either of their candidacies falter. 

The conditions for the nomination of a woman are there.

Asset and liabilities

Klobuchar has a numbers problem. She is one of seven senators who are fighting to carry the Democratic presidential banner against Trump. She is one of four female Democratic senators in the race. She even shares her perch on the Senate Judiciary Committee with two other Democratic candidates, Harris and New Jersey Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE.

The shaky start to Klobuchar’s presidential campaign is an example of the problems female candidates face. Before her official announcement, a story circulated that she had been abusive to staffers. There are 11 current members of Congress in the presidential race — six of whom are men. It wouldn’t be unusual if at least one of those six men had staff problems. But women are held to a stricter standard and Klobuchar took the media hit. People expect men to be tough, but women suffer when they come across anything but maternal.

Klobuchar describes herself as a pragmatic and moderate voice from the heartland of America. This may help her in neighboring Midwestern states like Iowa. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces DHS cyber agency to prioritize election security, Chinese threats ABC chose a debate moderator who hates Trump MORE won in Minnesota by the skin of her teeth so Klobuchar has positioned herself as a Democrat who can win purple states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, all of which went to Trump in 2016.

But primary voters want some sizzle with their steak. She has focused on bipartisan issues like infrastructure development and opioid abuse. Klobuchar has distanced herself from many of the positions that excite Democratic primary voters. She does not support Medicare for All and calls the Green New Deal “aspirational.” Her approach to a free college education is typical. She said, “if I was a magic genie and could give that to everyone and we could afford it, I would.”

 

If one of the male candidates wins the Democratic presidential nomination, he will be under great pressure to select a female running mate to reflect the power of women in the Democratic Party. If she doesn’t win the nomination, Klobuchar would balance the ticket nicely. She represents a Midwestern swing state that is vital to a Democratic victory. Or perhaps, Democrats will make history with two women on the ticket in 2020.

Her service as a district attorney and as a member of the Judiciary Committee would certainly make her a better attorney general than William Barr, whose claim on history will be the man who sacrificed his legal integrity to act as Trump’s public defender.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.

This is the 14th piece in a series of profiles by Bannon on 2020 Democratic hopefuls. Read his analysis on Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)Mayor Pete ButtigiegSen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourkeformer Govs. Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper, former Vice President Joe BidenSen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former HUD Secretary Julian CastroSen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)