Sen. Amy Klobuchar struck a forceful tone in Thursday night’s Democratic debate, where a smaller stage of rivals offered a chance to make a bigger impression.
“Let me make the case to the American people,” Klobuchar said in response to a question about the national divide over the impeachment of President Donald Trump. “A wise judge said the president is not the king. The law is the king.”
Klobuchar drew repeated parallels between Trump and President Richard Nixon, calling the circumstances that led to Trump’s impeachment a “global Watergate.” She also said he should allow “all the president’s men” to testify at an impeachment trial.
The Minnesota senator still trails a clutch of front-runners but has continued to inch upward in national and early-state polls of the Democratic race. The stakes are rising: The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses are just over six weeks away.
Earning increasing national media attention, Klobuchar put in her most confident debate performance to date, punctuating her points with jokes and taking particular aim Pete Buttigieg, her chief rival for centrists and moderate Democrats. She called him out for denigrating the experience of veteran Washington figures such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and herself. “I think you should respect our experience,” she said.
But as she has in previous debates and on the campaign trail, Klobuchar emphasized consensus-building in her policy approach and Midwestern electability as her political pitch. After Sanders criticized the U.S. trade deal with Canada and Mexico that passed Thursday afternoon in the House, Klobuchar jumped in to say she would vote for it.
“We got better labor provisions, better environmental provisions,” Klobuchar said. “Ninety-five percent of our markets are outside our border. We have to make sure we have trade agreements that are fair.”
During a discussion of climate change, Klobuchar suggested that a Midwestern politician would be best positioned to sell Midwestern voters on climate change solutions. Klobuchar also said she would immediately rejoin the Paris climate accord, enforce clean power rules, raise gas-mileage standards and enact what she called “a sweeping law to put a price on carbon.”
Klobuchar also spoke of the imperative to act on climate change for future generations.
“There’s an Ojibwe saying that leaders must make decisions for people seven generations from now,” Klobuchar said. “Trump doesn’t make decisions for seven minutes from now.”
Klobuchar was also asked what she would say to white Americans worried that they are on track to become a racial minority in the United States. She responded: “I say this is America. You’re looking at it.”