In a first forceful show of her re-election effort, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was joined by Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday for a fundraiser to aid her bid for a second term.

Biden painted Klobuchar as a close ally of the administration on dealing with the national financial crisis and other hallmark initiatives.

"Having Amy as an ally is like having four people with you," Biden told the 350 attendees at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis.

Klobuchar has proven enormously popular in recent polls, and she is a dogged fundraiser widely liked among some business leaders who typically support Republicans. She faces three main GOP challengers and a Republican state party that on Wednesday characterized her as a big-taxing Democrat lugging "a failed liberal agenda."

Biden talked about how important Klobuchar was during the recount in the Franken-Coleman Senate race, when she had to serve as the state's sole senator while the nation's economy sank.

"It was a moment of significant crisis," he said. "We needed smart but mostly gutsy leaders of Congress, as many as we could find, and we found Amy."

Biden also praised her for supporting the auto bailout, acknowledging it was a difficult vote politically.

"We would not let an iconic industry evaporate, an industry that helped build the middle class," he said. "So she stepped up, and she voted for it."

Klobuchar said the nation must rebuild its manufacturing sector and at the same time ease Wall Street's grip on the economy.

"We do not need to be a country where the basis for our economy is churning money on Wall Street," she said. "We need to be a county that makes stuff again, that invents things, that exports to the world."

At the noon fundraiser, Klobuchar talked about the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in 2007 as a symbol of the nation's need to invest in infrastructure.

"A bridge just doesn't fall down in the middle of America," she said. "But it did, and we rebuilt it and we rebuilt it in a year."

As Minnesotans edge toward a November showdown over a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, Biden and Klobuchar separately talked about the recently overturned "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy, which prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

For the Obama administration and Klobuchar, Biden said, "there was no distinction between the capability and patriotism of gay American soldiers and straight American soldiers, and therefore there should be absolutely no distinction in their ability to serve proudly and openly in the United States military."

Biden said Republicans in Minnesota and Washington are being crystal clear about their beliefs in protecting the privileged, eroding the middle class and weakening the nation's economy.

"The other team is not hiding the ball. They are saying exactly what they believe," Biden said. "As my mother would say, 'God bless them.'"

Klobuchar started the year with about $4.6 million in the bank, a huge advantage over her rivals.

Republican Pete Hegseth has raised about $160,000 in the month since he announced he was running for the seat. The other leading GOP candidates, state Rep. Kurt Bills and former state Rep. Dan Severson, are expected to report their fundraising totals soon.

Klobuchar told attendees their support was crucial in fending off challengers and national super PACs that might pour millions into sinking her re-election chances.

"Your help today means I can take it on and that we are ready for anything," she said.

Tickets for the event ranged from $125 to $10,000, which included VIP seating, a photo with Biden and a reception.

Baird Helgeson • 651-925-5044