« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

By Brett Neely, Published August 04 2013

Minn. Sen. Klobuchar's trip to Iowa sparks speculation

Since her landslide re-election victory last fall, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been raising her profile inside the Washington Beltway.

Flip on the Sunday political talk shows and you might see her on the ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” She makes frequent appearances at Capitol Hill rallies, such as a recent one to promote bipartisanship, one of Klobuchar’s pet projects.

Perhaps with that in mind, political junkies couldn’t help but notice that Klobuchar will be the keynote speaker for the North Iowa Democrats’ Wing Ding Fundraiser on Aug. 16.

Although there are nearly 1,200 days – or more than three years – until voters pick the next president, political junkies are following every politician’s movements in and out of Iowa for signs of a possible bid for the White House.

Klobuchar’s scheduled appearance in Iowa has sparked speculation about her future, given that she is often mentioned as a potential Democratic presidential candidate.

But anyone who asks Klobuchar if there is any ulterior motive for her trip to Iowa receives a well-practiced response.

“No, I love being the senator from Minnesota,” she said. “It simply means I was invited to a wingding and I think anything in Iowa makes a wingding out of a wingding and that is all it is.”

Others, however, think there is far more to her appearance.

“It’s serious political business,” said Larry Jacobs, a professor of politics at the University of Minnesota. “Amy Klobuchar is very shrewd in being the first Democrat to show up in Iowa with a presidential aura around her.”

Competition, money

After two Minnesota Republicans, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, tried to win their party’s presidential nomination in 2012, it’s not out of the question that an ambitious Democrat might seek her party’s nod.

One person who thinks Klobuchar has a shot at the Democratic nomination is pollster Jeff Liszt, who recently conducted a poll for EMILY’s List, which helps elect Democratic women to office. The group has launched a campaign to land a woman in the White House, which Liszt says the public supports.

Liszt thinks Klobuchar can tell a story about herself that voters may be eager to hear.

“The kind of things that she’s gotten bipartisan accomplishments on enable her to talk about making Washington work at a time when a lot of voters are really concerned about dysfunction in Washington,” he said.

But there is one major potential obstacle for Klobuchar and others – the possible candidacy former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was a tough competitor to then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama before he wrapped up the Democratic nomination in 2008.

“If she runs, then it’s difficult for any other candidate, male or female, to get traction in the race,” Liszt said of Clinton.

Another obstacle, Jacobs said, is what’s known as the money primary.

“You need to be tied into big money to have even a shot at running for president,” he said.

Klobuchar raised about $10 million for her re-election campaign – certainly not chump change.

But Clinton and other possible candidates, among them Vice President Joe Biden or U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, have much bigger networks of deep-pocketed donors.

Lacking position

Another potential issue is how Klobuchar would position herself with Democratic primary voters.

Jacobs notes that even before he was elected to the Senate, Obama won over the liberal wing of the party by opposing the war in Iraq.

“Klobuchar doesn’t have that; she doesn’t really have a signature progressive position,” he said. “She can talk about things that she’s done with Republicans, which she does very often. That’s not going to charge up the Democratic Party base.”