CONWAY — Do nice candidates finish last? Amy Klobuchar certainly hopes not.
In the cutthroat world of presidential politics, the Minnesota Democrat has distinguished herself by taking the high road.
At the recent televised debates — which turned into a bit of a free-for-all on the first night, when the senator had to jostle for air time with Beto O’Rourke spouting Espanol, Julian Castro going mano a mano with his fellow Texan and top-polling Elizabeth Warren having “her moment,” as they say — the 59-year-old Klobuchar chose to keep it nice.
As she put it during a noontime campaign stop she and her family made at Tuckerman’s Brewing Co. in Conway Village on Sunday, “if all we do is fight with each other, how can we as a party beat Donald Trump?”
It was a point she had made a few hours earlier on a “Meet the Press” segment she did from Whitefield. The NBC interview with Chuck Todd opened with his take-away from the debates, which was that “most of the party is moving sharply to the left.” Bucking that trend, he said, is Klobuchar, the “pragmatic progressive.”
Todd played a clip from the June 26 debate and invited the candidate to weigh in a statement made by New York Mayor Bill DiBlasio. But Klobuchar politely but firmly declined to diss her rival, telling Todd: “What I do note is that we are much more unified against Donald Trump. We have things that we disagree on, but in the end we will come together” to beat the presumptive Republican nominee.
Being a skilled attorney, she then swiveled the discourse back to her point, which was that the top person for the top job should be Amy Klobuchar.
“I’ve won in all those red districts before, and I believe I can do it again.”
Listeners at Tuckerman’s — which included state Reps. Susan Ticehurst and Harrison Kanzler and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s liaison, Chuck Henderson — were also treated to a presidential sales pitch from the senator.
First, however, Klobuchar hunkered down in
Tuckerman’s tank room with Chris Ryan from the New England College podcast “Pints & Politics.” Though that pushed back her talk by about an hour, the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals were on TV, so the audience of about 35 or so people didn’t get too restless.
And, to Klobuchar’s credit, what was scheduled as only a meet-and-greet ended wth a bona fide stump speech.
“I love being up here. We’ve been up in the North Country for a while,” said Klobuchar, who was accompanied by her law professor husband John Bessler and their 24-year-old daughter Abigail.
“We were actually in the Franconia parade, Littleton, Whitefield,” Klobuchar said. “We were everywhere.” That also included a stop at the Copper Pig Brewery in Lancaster to get some Jarhead Pale Ale, which was created as a fundraiser for the seven motorcyclists who died in the tragic collision with a pickup truck in Randolph on June 21.
In fact, Klobuchar made reference to the “Memorial Ride for the Fallen 7” that swelled to 3,000 riders last Saturday to pay tribute to the victims.
“That is the kind of community we cherish,” she said, speaking into a microphone at the end of Tuckerman’s tasting room. “That is the sense of community this president (Trump) tries to fracture every single day,” she added. “He goes after immigrants, people of color, people in his own party.”
Klobuchar then emphasized her own fitness for the presidency, pushing her congressional experience. Her mention that “I was the ranking senator on the rules committee of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Brett Kavanagh hearings” netted her a hearty round of applause.
Although she had told Todd on “Meet the Press” that she wasn’t a candidate who would make a lot of promises, Klobuchar then vowed to take dark money out of politics, reverse Citizens United and tackle health-care costs.
The latter, she said, would include lowering the costs of prescription drugs. She talked about a diabetic who died as a result of rationing his insulin — the tragic consequence of the cost of his life-giving medication skyrocketing.
She also talked of visiting former President Jimmy Carter and seeing the words of his vice president (fellow Minnesotan Walter Mondale) in his Georgia library, which said: “We told the truth, we obeyed the law, we kept the peace.”
None of which, she said, the current president is doing. But, she added, “This is the minimum of what you can expect of me.”
During a Q-and-A, a woman asked Klobuchar what people were thinking when they voted for Trump. Klobuchar answered, “I don’t condemn the people who voted for him. Many came from rural areas and felt they weren’t getting a fair shake. They felt left out of the national dialogue.”
But she said she would like to ask those voters now, “What has he done for you?” Trump, she said, “is all foam and no beer.”
Another question was about end-of-life care. The questioner pointed out a lot of health care is wasted on people who don’t want it.
Klobuchar agreed. “A lot of places don’t adequately explain living wills, directed care, and long-term care.” Plus, she said, more elderly want to stay at home. “We recently moved my dad, who is 91, into assisted living, so I’m very familiar with these issues.”
She also recently sponsored a long-term care bill. Americans, she said, “are living longer. It’s imperative we make decisions about it.”
She ended with a pitch to push her over the threshold of 130,000 unique donors to qualify for the fall debates.
“Go to amyklobuchar.com. Or we have buttons for sale back there,” she said. “Buy a button, give your name, and you’re automatically a unique donor.”