Dozens of Democrats from Bremer County and the surrounding areas filled the lower-level lounge at the Waverly Area Veterans Post on Friday afternoon to hear from a neighboring-state lawmaker, who is seeking to become president.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., stopped in Waverly as part of her 20-county tour of the Hawkeye State last week, less than six months ahead of the first-in-the-nation caucuses. She was impressed by the turnout.
“It shows that they’re eager for someone leading the ticket who can win,” Klobuchar said. “They know me from my work in Minnesota, and we are in the long haul here. I made the fall debates, and we have a great operation here.
“We’re doing grassroots events like this all over the state, and word gets around. That’s old-fashioned politics, that’s grassroots politics, and I think in the end, I think that’s winning politics.”
The senior senator from the Land of 10,000 Lakes addressed the crowd for about 25 minutes and then pulled four written questions from a small bucket about her positions. In her opening remarks, she gave her bona fides, including how her grandfather worked in the mines to support his family after his parents died and that her father worked as a newspaperman to her own career as Hennepin County Attorney, which includes Minneapolis.
She spoke about her positions on gun safety, which includes the closure of the “boyfriend loophole,” which would prevent unmarried men from obtaining a gun if they are convicted of domestic abuse. Currently, only spouses and ex-spouses are forbidden.
Klobuchar also wants to curb the issuance of waivers to refineries for ethanol production, provide better housing in rural areas, increase child care options in small towns and rural areas to prevent “child-care deserts,” and improve infrastructure and broadband services.
After she completed her speech, one potential voter named Jerry asked why she thought she’s the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump. She felt someone from the Heartland leading the ticket is important.
“I think that someone that has a track record of getting things done is going to be very important to people,” she said, “because they’ve seen all of these lies and dishonesty, and having somebody who is very different than Donald Trump head up the ticket is going to be very important.”
She also said a woman can take on the president, as evidenced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and how she’s handled legislative negotiations with Trump.
“My strategy for this is you take him on just as you did in 2018 with a unified agenda,” Klobuchar said.
She talked about a mother pushing a stroller with her child who has Down Syndrome. The mother said her son is an example of someone who has a “pre-existing condition” in the health care debate.
Klobuchar added that Democrats can win in the Midwest.
“If you don’t believe me… I have four words for you: Former Gov. Scott Walker,” she said, referring to the two-term Republican leader of Wisconsin who lost his re-election bid last fall.
After the event, she told Waverly Newspapers during a brief press availability on the subject of health care, she is more in favor of improving the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, rather than going down the Medicare-for-all route that some of her more liberal/progressive colleagues want.
“We have to keep in mind that this (Trump) administration is trying to kick people off of their insurance,” Klobuchar said. “I would add something that didn’t get done at all in the last bill, and I would add a public option, which would be a non-profit option, also wouldn’t involve the insurance companies.
“It would be significantly less expensive and would be a way to bring competition into the market. Barack Obama wanted to do it to begin with, but that’s where I am.”
Klobuchar told the crowd that she saw the world’s largest strawberry. The crowd laughed at the mention of the Strawberry Point landmark.
“It was the highlight of my day,” the senator remarked. “It doesn’t quite match Minnesota’s largest ball of twine (in Darwin, 60 miles west of Minneapolis), or our only museum in the world devoted entirely to Spam (in Austin, a 90-minute drive from Waverly), or as we call it, ‘the Guggen-ham.’”
But, she said the sights she saw Friday were “refreshing,” compared to the events the prior weekend of two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and the political fallout following them. She had rolled out her agricultural policies at a farm near Ankeny and saw a flag on a nearby barn that made her reflect on others that may be flying at half-mast at the two crime scenes.
However, her reverie was interrupted by a cameraman talking on his cell phone to a producer as his live feed started.
“It’s our friends from Fox News,” she quipped as the crowd broke into laughter.
But she said that despite the divisiveness and the messages that Trump tweets out daily that, “there is more that unites us than divides us in the United States of America.”
She also thanked Iowans for helping to flip the House of Representatives to the Democrats. That included helping Abby Finkenauer, D-Dubuque, and Cindy Axne, D-West Des Moines, win in the 1st and 3rd Districts and nearly getting J.D. Scholten, D-Sioux City, past Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, in 2018.
Following the event, she took a few moments to take photos with supporters. She also signed a copy of her book for Debbe Baker, of Waverly. Baker was impressed by the Minnesota senator’s comments.
“She had some humor and some productive ideas,” Baker said. “I think she would be a great president.”