What might be next for Klobuchar?

Published 10:22 am Monday, August 24, 2015

By Allison Sherry and J. Patrick Coolican

Minneapolis Star Tribune

U.S. Sen Amy Klobuchar’s revealing new autobiography, book tour and dogged speaking schedule are reigniting talk that she is looking for new political conquests — maybe even an eventual run for the White House.

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“People have talked to me about it in the past,” Klobuchar said recently in her Minneapolis home. “When someone talks to you about it, you have to think about it in your mind, and I have, but the reason I wrote this book had nothing to do with that.”

Klobuchar’s rising political profile is burnished by a high approval rating driven partly by strong numbers among independent and Republican voters who see her as a moderate. But it comes at a time when her party’s rank-and-file increasingly want bolder, progressive stands from their leaders.

Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar now faces scrutiny from some Democrats who say she does not leverage her enormous popularity enough by pushing harder on major progressive causes, like environmental protections and income inequality.

Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-St. Paul, praised Klobuchar for her work on invasive carp. But on other issues, he said the “Wellstone wing” of the party, referring to the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, craves more outspoken leadership.

“You need to use the popularity,” he said. “You need to remember what you’re there for. I think that’s where some of the frustration comes in.” He contrasted Gov. Mark Dayton’s politically risky push for buffers around rivers, streams and ditches to prevent water pollution with one of Klobuchar’s votes to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of some of those same bodies of water.

Klobuchar disputes the idea that she shies away from controversial stands or politically risky issues.

She notes that she was an early supporter of a constitutional amendment on campaign finance reform and recently came out in favor of the Iran nuclear agreement that the White House is still lobbying other senators on. She led the bipartisan effort to lift the Cuban trade embargo; and recently brokered a deal with Republican leaders to combat human trafficking.

Klobuchar says she works hard not to be combative or snarky about opposing sides.

The world “needs rabble rousers,” she said, “but you also need to be willing to compromise to get things done.”

This strategy, carefully crafted after almost a decade in the U.S. Senate, has obvious benefits.