Update, March 2, 2020: Senator Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the 2020 presidential race shortly before Super Tuesday. While she placed third in the New Hampshire primary, she was unable to pull off a strong finish in any other early voting state. According to the New York Times, she will instead be endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden.
Original: Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has now entered the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, joining a number of other prominent women, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sen. Kamala Harris. The Minnesota native, a graduate from Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School, has been senator since 2007 and has consistently won her elections by large margins.
I'm running for every parent, senior, worker, farmer, dreamer, and builder. I'm running for every American. pic.twitter.com/3DkHxkgs92— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) February 11, 2019
Klobuchar worked as a lawyer and prosecutor before becoming the state’s first female U.S. Senator. In contrast to some of her colleagues, she’s known as a more moderate Democrat who boasts bipartisanship, represents a purple-ish state, and has the ability to rack up votes. (In 2018, she won reelection by 26 points, including in 43 counties where Trump won in 2016, according to Vox.)
Below, ELLE.com breaks down where Klobuchar stands on the nine issues voters cared about most going into the midterm elections.
While Klobuchar has not signed onto Medicare for All, CNBC reports that she does support universal health care, starting with a public option for people to opt into government-run plans. She supports expanding Medicaid and Medicare and lowering drug prices, including allowing Medicare to negotiate prices, according to PBS.
"On 'Medicare for All,' I think it is something we should look at, but I want to get there quicker and I don’t want to do any harm," she said in an interview with CNBC. "There, I actually am not on that bill because I support a public option and improving the Affordable Care Act and keeping those protections in place and doing something about pharmaceuticals."
In 2017, she also spoke about improving upon the Affordable Care Act, telling CNN, “We can do something quickly to fix the Affordable Care Act. That’s why we can’t afford to let them ram through a bill that’s going to make things worse by cutting millions off of health care, jacking up premiums, and doing nothing about skyrocketing drug costs.”
She's released a $100 billion plan to combat drug and alcohol addiction and improve mental health care. The plan is focused on prevention, treatment and ongoing recovery. The issue is personal to Klobuchar, who has spoken openly about her own father's alcoholism.
In a statement, she said that after three DUIs, her father “finally got real treatment and was, in his own words, ‘pursued by grace.’”
“The one thing I hear over and over again across the country is people’s stories of battling with mental health and addiction,” she said. “People need help, but they just can’t get it. I believe everyone should have the same opportunity my dad had to be pursued by grace and get the treatment and help they need.”
Besides lowering the cost for prescription drugs, Klobuchar has also fought to lower student debt by supporting the expansion of the federal Pell Grant program and allowing students to refinance their loans at a lower interest rate. (Read more about the Red Act, which tackles much of this, here.) During a speech in 2017, Klobuchar called for a manufacturing economy that “leaves no people behind” and for regulations on big corporations.
In her 2020 announcement speech, she also said she would invest in green jobs and infrastructure. Most recently, she has introduced legislation to identify and incentivize American manufacturers using sustainable practices.
“American-made goods are often produced more sustainably than foreign-made materials, but those green practices aren’t taken into account when bidding for government contracts,” she said. “Our legislation will help manufacturers here at home that have proven their dedication to fighting climate change by giving federal agencies the information to take those efforts into consideration during the bidding process, creating new opportunities to fight climate change and reduce emissions across global supply chains.”
In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, she discussed the unions, saying, "When unions do well, other workers do well that aren’t even in unions. I think it’s making sure that you have the ability to organize, to be in a union. I think it helps all workers. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for unions. My grandpa, those safety rules that the unions got in place, that made a difference. My mom moved to Minnesota from Wisconsin because they had a stronger teacher’s union. I literally am the granddaughter of a union worker, and the daughter of a union teacher and a union newspaper man, and the first woman elected to Senate from the state of Minnesota, and the candidate for president of the United States."
The senator has been critical of President Trump, who has long used racist language concerning immigrants, saying he has “chosen to weaponize” and “politicize” the issue of immigration. In an interview with ABC News, she said, in relation to the number of immigrants coming into the United States, that Trump "should have been working with these Central American countries a long time ago to try to get to a point where we didn’t see this extraordinary amount of people coming through." She pointed to the need for comprehensive immigration reform and has said she supports reforming—not abolishing—ICE.
In the past, Klobuchar also urged the government to look into the death of Jakelin Caal, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died shortly after entering Border Patrol custody:
7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin’s death was a tragedy. At a Judiciary Cmte hearing I asked the Commissioner of Customs & Border Protection if he regretted some of their policies. He did not bring up this death or report it within 24 hours. We need answers. pic.twitter.com/1NVHCb0Bjv— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) December 18, 2018
In the past, she has said she would not abolish ICE. "I think what has to change are the policies, and the people that are making these policies are making horrendous decisions like separating kids from their parents," Klobuchar said on ABC's This Week last year.
"We are always going to need immigration enforcement," she added. "I think we know that. We are a major country with major borders."
How Women Are Treated in the U.S.
Klobuchar is a pro-choice candidate, and she co-sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act, which is meant to keep states from creating restrictions on abortion. According to Vox, she was also key in changing Senate rules in order to allow Sen. Tammy Duckworth to bring her newborn onto the Senate floor.
She’s also an anti-sex trafficking advocate and testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, saying, "America must lead the world in cracking down on these heinous crimes and making the fight against sex trafficking a top priority in our foreign policy. How we respond to sex trafficking–both in our own country and around the world–will send a clear message about the commitment of our nation to elevate the status of women and girls."
When it comes to sexual harassment allegations, Klobuchar said at a Women’s Convention in 2017, "We make sure it isn’t just famous people who are heard. We protect the shift worker at the factory, the teacher at the school, the nurse at the hospital, all women deserve to be safe wherever they work and wherever they are."
Domestic violence and stalking force people to live in fear. We must expand protections for dating partners and prevent people convicted of stalking from possessing a gun. This is not complicated.— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) June 24, 2019
She recently tweeted about domestic violence, writing, "Domestic violence and stalking force people to live in fear. We must expand protections for dating partners and prevent people convicted of stalking from possessing a gun. This is not complicated."
Like many of the other Democratic hopefuls, Klobuchar supports a ban on assault weapons and supports background checks for gun owners. She was also vocal about her support for the Parkland activists who have been working for sensible gun control.
According to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Klobuchar has reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, written legislation regarding domestic violence, and as the organization writes, "has also worked to close the so-called 'boyfriend loophole' in federal gun violence legislation. Current federal domestic violence firearm prohibitions only apply to 'intimate partners' which does not include dating partners a victim has not lived with, had a child with, or been married to."
In our meeting the President said he's on board to pass universal background checks & legislation like my bill to protect those at risk of gun violence from domestic abusers and stalkers. Americans want action. He must follow through. https://t.co/MZXgUVydv3— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) February 28, 2018
In her announcement speech, Klobuchar directly addressed taxes, saying, “We should close those tax loopholes designed by and for the wealthy and bring down our debt and make it easier for workers to afford childcare, housing, and education.” In 2018, she helped introduce the Removing Incentives for Outsourcing Act, which was intended to close a loophole in the tax law that allowed U.S. companies to minimize their tax liability by moving jobs overseas.
Klobuchar is in favor of rejoining the Paris Accord and meeting the goals of the U.N. Panel on Climate Change, including cutting greenhouse gases by 45 percent by 2030, and increasing renewable energy by up to 47 percent by 2050. She has released details on how she would specifically achieve this.
PBS reports Klobuchar opposed Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria, and she put forth the Honest Ads Act, which would require publishers to make information about their ads public. (The bill was in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.)
On MSNBC, Klobuchar told host Rachel Maddow she believes the United States needs to continue to be a tough negotiator with Russia and that the country needs “to stand as a beacon of democracy.” She continued, “To me, we must stand with our allies. We must be consistent with our foreign policy, and we must listen to our troops, listen to what the military is saying, listen to our intelligence officers,” and that we should not be conducting foreign policy “by tweet.”
Income and Wealth Distribution
While Klobuchar has yet to support a federal $15/hour minimum wage like some of the other Democratic presidential frontrunners, in the past she has supported raising the federal minimum wage, and she supports closing the pay gap for women. In 2014, she said, “Income inequality is a direct threat to the American promise that with hard work and determination everyone has the same fair shot at building a better life for their families.”
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation
Though people knew about Klobuchar before Kavanaugh's confirmation, many more learned about her after a moment between the senator and the judge went viral. At one point during the hearings, Klobuchar asked Kavanaughed if he had ever blacked out from drinking, a reasonable question considering there were allegations against him that he sexually harassed a woman at a party.
In response, Kavanaugh asked Klobuchar, "Have you?" to which she calmly asked him to answer the question. Later, Kavanaugh ended up apologizing to Klobuchar, and she explained that she’s careful about drinking due to her father’s alcoholism.
The senator ended up voting “no” on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
And one more thing…
Even before Klobuchar officially announced her run, reports were swirling about her poor treatment of staffers. Huffington Post reported that some of her former staffers said the senator was “habitually demeaning and prone to bursts of cruelty that make it difficult to work in her office for long." BuzzFeed similarly reported that former staffers said Klobuchar “demeaned and berated her staff almost daily, subjecting them to bouts of explosive rage and regular humiliation within the office.”
One former staffer told the outlet, “I knew her reputation going in, and I rationalized it, because I thought that was what was going on—I thought people were saying that because she was a woman. I regret that now.”
While others have come forward to defend her, claiming that while working for her was challenging, it was still beneficial, it is true that Klobuchar’s office has had one of the highest turnover rates in the Senate.
The senator has also recently responded to the reports, saying, “Yes, I can be tough, and yes I can push people. I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work for me, but I have high expectations for this country… In the end, there are so many great stories of our staff that have been with me for years.”
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