Amy Klobuchar opened her speech Thursday afternoon with a few jokes in front of a crowd of roughly 60 people at La Reyna.
She joked that, as a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, she could “see Iowa from [her] porch,” an apparent allusion to Tina Fey’s performance of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live.
She lightly ribbed Benton County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Rosemary Schwartz. Schwartz seemed to have trouble reading a small font in her introductory notes. Klobuchar said her own daughter, as a preteen, had written a speech for school in large print, apparently emulating her mother’s practices. When Klobuchar asked her daughter why she wrote it that way, she said her daughter replied, “I thought that’s what you do.”
The Democratic presidential candidate segued into her speech from there, touching on subjects such as her newly unveiled plan to invest more capital in rural communities, her beliefs on the gun-control debate, and her willingness to work with Independents and moderate Republicans.
“There’s still more that unites us than divides us,” she said of her fellow Democratic presidential candidates following the past two primary debates. “I have tried to use that stage to take it to Donald Trump... If we spend the whole time going after each other, they’re not going to see that alternative.”
Klobuchar talked to the crowd for about an hour before taking a few random questions attendees had written in advance. When asked whether Republicans in Congress were “self-centered or country-centered,” she praised members like the late Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Jeff Flake, but described unnamed others as being afraid of contradicting the president for concern over losing their next primary elections.
The second question she took addressed moving toward a public health care option. Klobuchar said she favored building off of the Affordable Care Act passed by President Barack Obama.
“We need to have competition [among insurance plans],” she said, “and the best way we do that, I think, is with a nonprofit option.”
The third question she took concerned retirees under 65 years old who need Medicare. Klobuchar said she was a cosponsor to a bill that would move the age requirement down to 50-years-old.
The fourth question she read asked, “How can you reach people who buy into the deceitful tweets of Trump?”
“First of all, you’re not going to, most likely, ever be able to reach people who are racist or bigoted,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “That’s done. But there’s still people who are believing some of this economic message... I think those are the people that you appeal to.”
Ellen Sweet, an Iowa City resident who made the drive to see the speech, said she was impressed with the poise Sen. Klobuchar showed while announcing her candidacy in a blizzard in February. She said she was equally impressed with Sen. Klobuchar’s speech.
“I thought it was very good,” Sweet said. “I just think I liked all of it, particularly when she talked about the border.”
Sweet referred to the last question Klobuchar read out loud, which concerned the president’s immigration policy.
“That has been the hardest thing to watch: Parents separated from their kids, people dying, people not even given toothbrushes,” Sen. Klobuchar said. “Donald Trump has been using those people as political pawns.”