I’ve suggested over the last several weeks that I believe that the Democrats’ best hope of reclaiming the White House in 2020 lies in nominating a candidate whose views run to the left center of the political spectrum, rather than to the avowedly progressive. My premise is based on Electoral College math: that what I have called a “reasonably acceptable” Democratic nominee should readily claim the states that provided Secretary Hillary Clinton 232 Electoral College votes in 2016, enabling such candidate to concentrate on winning those traditionally Democratic states that President Trump narrowly won in 2016 – Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. As I have stated, I think that subject to events that could alter the national mood, today the President would have an opportunity to beat an avid progressive in these three states and perhaps in states that Ms. Clinton narrowly won in 2016. I’ve indicated that I consider former VP Joe Biden and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to be favorable Democratic matchups if Mr. Trump is the Republican nominee.
Now I have a candidate I like better: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
By this time, all with an interest have probably seen clips of Sen. Klobuchar’s announcement of her candidacy in Boom Island, MN (from which she hails), but if you haven’t, a link to a YouTube of the event is below. She isn’t flashy, but to me … it was pure gold. I recently listed criteria that I think might be pivotal to the Democratic nominee’s chances to beat Mr. Trump; although at the time I wrote that note, I was only aware of Sen. Klobuchar due to the Bret Kavanaugh hearings, it was if I wrote the post with her in mind:
- The ability to look strong on the stage against the President. At one point during her announcement, Ms. Klobuchar declared, “I have grit,” and no one watching her speak in the driving snow, hatless and gloveless, could doubt it. [Indeed, if she wins the nomination, I’d advise her to challenge the President to an outdoor debate in Lambeau Field ;)]. She, like CA Sen. Kamala Harris, got her start as a prosecutor, which projects strength. Although there are stories circulating indicating that she is hard on her staff, I’m not sure that these accounts don’t help her on the “strength” issue; Americans know the presidency is a tough job, and my instincts say they will somewhat discount the stories because she seems so sunny (see below) while being reassured at having a President reputedly not afraid to push staff to get the job done.
- Possessed of the requisite knowledge and experience. Sen. Klobuchar is starting her third term in the Senate; she knows the ropes – indeed, has earned praise from a number of her Republican Senate colleagues for her ability, pragmatism, and collaborative approach. I note that she has not served on a Senate Committee dealing with foreign policy, but her overall national experience equals that of Sens. Sanders and Warren and dwarfs the rest of the announced field.
- Not an “identity” candidate. In her announcement, Ms. Klobuchar didn’t mention that she was … a woman. She focused on how she intended to help our people.
- Not overtly progressive. If one listens to Sen. Klobuchar’s announcement and reviews her record, she is clearly emerging as one of the more centrist alternatives in the field. Interestingly, some liberal commentators seem to recognize the Democrats’ need for a centrist alternative; Ms. Klobuchar has received favorable commentary from MSNBC’s Morning Joe team, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow – perhaps the most influential cable commentator on the left – is clearly taken with her.
- She is likeable – friendly, upbeat; indeed, the rap against her is that she seems “too nice” to run for or win the presidency. Although she is not smooth like Ronald Reagan, the way she projects a sunny outlook actually reminded me of Mr. Reagan’s delivery – a clear contrast to Mr. Trump’s dark fear mongering.
- Have a credible plan to address the needs of a large swath of our economically desperate people. Sen. Klobuchar has pledged to present programs to ready us for the economy of the future and make healthcare available for all, while expressing reservations about the practicality of the New Green Deal and Medicare for All (reservations I share). In short, a left center philosophy.
The fact that Sen. Klobuchar hails from the middle of the country (indeed, from right on the Mississippi), that she is happily married with a daughter, that her grandparents were immigrants, her grandfather was an iron mine worker and her mother a teacher, that she is proud that her father was a newspaperman, that – in her words — “I don’t have money or a machine,” all add up to the image of a sunny but tough Minnesotan that will seemingly have appeal across the great middle of this nation. Acknowledging what my sainted mother used to say — “There’s many the slip ‘tween the cup and the lip” 😉 – Ms. Klobuchar is an experienced campaigner and winner.
Nonetheless … there is obviously more to winning a major party’s nomination for the presidency than having experience and being able to smile and speak in the snow. More on other aspects of Sen. Klobuchar’s candidacy in Part II.