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Sen. Amy Klobuchar: 7 things you need to know

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By Roey Hadar

Gwen Ifill Fellow

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) became one of almost a half-dozen U.S. senators to jump in as a presidential candidate, announcing on February 10th amid heavy snow in Minneapolis that she was running for president.

Klobuchar, who is in her third term representing Minnesota in the Senate, has built a reputation as a mild-mannered, pragmatic Midwesterner and it has helped her win all three of her Senate campaigns handily, even in a swing state like Minnesota.

Here are seven things you need to know about the Minnesota senator:

  • She got her start as a local prosecutor in Minneapolis. After graduating from Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School and spending a few years as a corporate lawyer, Klobuchar became Hennepin County Attorney in 1998 after winning an election to the position. She served two terms before running for U.S. Senate in 2006.
  • A personal struggle led to her first political involvement. Before serving in public office, Klobuchar lobbied the Minnesota state legislature for a law mandating a 48-hour hospital stay for newborn mothers. Klobuchar was kicked out of the hospital 24 hours after giving birth to her daughter Abigail, who was born with a condition that made her unable to swallow. Thanks in part to her advocacy, the proposal became law in Minnesota and later became federal law.
  • Klobuchar ranks highly in getting bills into law. Data from GovTrack shows that she regularly ranks near the top among Senators in introducing bills, getting bipartisan cosponsors and getting laws passed. In the previous Congress, Klobuchar ranked 3rd among Senate Democrats in the number of bills she sponsored that were enacted into law and introduced more bills than any other Senate Democrat.
  • She looks like a moderate compared to some other 2020 contenders. FiveThirtyEight’s “Trump score” data, which measures how often a Senator votes alongside President Trump, says she voted with him 31.5% of the time, at a significantly higher rate than some of her fellow 2020 contenders, including Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand. Despite an increased willingness to join with the president on occasion, Klobuchar is running on a consistently liberal platform, supporting action on climate change, expanding Medicare, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and rejoining the Paris climate accord. In one break with the liberal wing, however, Klobuchar does not support abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • Klobuchar had a notable run-in with Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Klobuchar has had the opportunity to question many of President Trump’s nominees, including Kavanaugh. Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh about his drinking habits and if he had ever been so intoxicated that he could not remember what happened afterward. An angry Kavanaugh turned the question back on Klobuchar, “If you’re asking about blackout. I don’t know, have you?” Kavanaugh later apologized to Klobuchar for his response. The question was personal for Klobuchar. Her father, a retired sportswriter and columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, dealt with alcoholism for many years.
  • She has come out in opposition to proposals to make college free for all. While fellow 2020 Democrats including Bernie Sanders and Julián Castro have called for tuition-free college, Klobuchar has said she’s “not for” free college and that it’s a step too far. She has proposed more incremental incentives, including expanding the Pell Grant program, allowing people to refinance their student loans, and making two years of community college free.
  • She has already sparred with President Trump on Twitter. Klobuchar’s campaign announcement took place outside in below-freezing temperatures, leading to snow accumulating on her hair. After seeing the announcement, President Trump tweeted that “by the end of her speech she looked like a snowman(woman)” while mocking her for advocating fighting global warming while speaking in a snowy setting. Klobuchar responded by quoting the president’s tweet and remarking in part, “I wonder how your hair would fare in a blizzard.”