CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Amy Klobuchar was running out of time. With Iowans preparing to caucus on Monday, she set out on a final sprint of campaigning across the state.
First there was the Saturday morning stump speech for a capacity crowd at a Quad Cities brewery on the state’s eastern border. Then midday remarks at a music venue in Sioux City, a mile from the river dividing Iowa from Nebraska. Just after 5:30 p.m., she appeared in northern Iowa, speaking to 200 could-be supporters at the Cedar Falls Women’s Club. An evening rally in a Des Moines school gymnasium was up next.
“Yeah, we just went everywhere,” Klobuchar told the crowd in Cedar Falls. “I’ve got to get a week in in two days.”
In the final scramble for votes, Klobuchar crisscrossed Iowa in a nine-seat chartered plane, looking to make up for lost time after the Senate impeachment trial took her off the trail.
“I did not think that I would be spending the last two weeks in Washington,” Klobuchar told supporters in Mason City on Sunday. “I thought I would be here, maybe doing a redux of my 99-county tour.”
The final push, which Klobuchar described as “the Super Bowl of campaigns,” reflects the stakes for the Minnesotan’s bid in neighboring Iowa, which could decide how much farther she goes in the Democratic primaries.
Already, she has announced campaign events in New Hampshire, which holds its primary next week. “I’m going to New Hampshire no matter what,” she said in a TV interview Sunday from Des Moines.
For months, she’s trailed better-funded and better-known rivals in fundraising and the polls. A come-from-behind showing in Iowa could catapult her into the top tier. A flop could further imperil her underdog bid.
The Saturday sprint covered 600-plus miles of travel, the longest stretch an 84-minute flight from Bettendorf to Sioux City. She started the day at 10:05 a.m., speaking to an overflow crowd of supporters at a bicycle shop in eastern Iowa, a short drive from the Quad Cities airport where she arrived from Washington the night before. Twelve hours later, just after 10 p.m. Saturday, she posed for pictures with supporters waiting in a line that snaked through a Beaverdale gym.
“You can see here we’re surging, we’ve got momentum everywhere,” she told reporters. “This is just the beginning.”
The final leg on Sunday started in a remote studio for a nationally televised interview on “Fox News Sunday.” Then, it was wheels up for Cedar Rapids, where she pitched herself to a crowd of 400 as “tough and quick enough to take on Donald Trump.”
“I know I can build a coalition to win. I have won every race, every place, every time,” she said, repeating one of her favorite lines on the stump.
Seconds after Klobuchar wrapped up her speech, a gray-haired woman in the crowd turned to her friend and said, “Oh my god! I’m going to caucus for her!” Anne Grimm, a 59-year-old nurse from Solon, also sensed momentum.
“I think she can win,” said Grimm, who plans to caucus for her first time Monday night. “The numbers might not show it, but people are talking about her.”
At all seven stops, she hit on a theme of electability. In Beaverdale, Klobuchar shared stories of connecting with voters in New Hampshire and Minnesota who had supported Trump in 2016. Backers in Bettendorf heard that she knows “how to get things done in Washington.” In Sioux City, she touted her ability to “turn ideas into action.” Which, she noted, “is the difference between a plan and a pipe dream.”
The messages resonated with Dagna Simmons, a 70-year-old retiree in the Sioux City audience.
“I feel like we need somebody who’s a little more moderate side, more center. She fits that bill for me,” Simmons said.
Klobuchar told crowds all weekend that momentum is on her side, citing two recent polls showing gains.
But several top rivals, including U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, reportedly attracted far bigger crowds in their final rallies. Andy McGuire, a former Democratic Party leader serving as Klobuchar’s state campaign chair, said she hoped the last swing would further boost a late surge in support.
“Her staff and volunteers have been running around all week for her, so it’s almost like she’s been here,” McGuire said. “But her touching people for the last time, going all around Iowa and seeing people and talking about her message, it just lights it up even more.”
Just after 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Klobuchar made her final appearance, speaking at a barbecue joint just north of Des Moines before heading back to Washington.
“I’m asking you to double down on your work,” she told the packed room. “You’ve got to make up for the fact that all I’ve been doing is doing my job.”
Staff writers Patrick Condon and Jessie Van Berkel contributed to this report.