Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s steeply uphill campaign for her party’s 2020 presidential nomination got a much-needed boost on May 8 as she became the second Democratic candidate to take the plunge on the Fox News Town Hall.
Since announcing her candidacy Feb. 10, the Minnesota Democrat, 58, has been mired deep in the pack of 22 candidates seeking to oppose President Donald Trump’s reelection bid in November 2020.
She consistently draws around five percent support in surveys of the gigantic field, trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and, more recently, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Klobuchar displayed the key to her candidacy when she was asked by an audience member why progressive voters should support her rather than any of the other nearly two dozen candidates who offer similar, if not identical, positions on major issues such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
“I am a proven progressive,” she said. “The last time I checked, if you want to be a progressive and support progressives, then you are supposed to make progress.”
Klobuchar has acquired a reputation, serving as Minnesota’s first woman senator, as somebody who generally takes liberal positions but who is also pragmatic and willing to work with opponents whenever possible.
She supports Medicare for All but thinks it can only be achieved gradually and in stages. Similarly, Klobuchar calls the Green New Deal “aspirational,” which sounds very much like a diplomatic dismissal.
Her image thus provides a solid contrast with left-wing radicalism displayed by Sanders, Harris, and Warren, as well as other less-prominent contenders such as Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).
One important Democratic player who was impressed with Klobuchar’s performance was former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile, now a Fox News political analyst.
“If I had a nickname for her, I would just call her ‘Common Sense Amy’ because many of her answers were just common sense,” Brazile said after the event.
“I thought she did herself a lot of good tonight, especially with those Democrats who are still shopping for a candidate,” Brazile said. “She had a lot of items that she checked off the list and, while I think on the economy she needs to get a little stronger, overall, I think she did a great job.”
Klobuchar also drew praise on May 9 for a strong onstage performance in the Fox News event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from Democratic and Republican strategists interviewed by The Epoch Times.
“No one should underestimate Klobuchar. She’s a smart, low-key legislator. She’s that senatorial horse with blinders on,” Democrat Jimmy Williams said.
“But she’s also politically astute and that makes her dangerous to Trump both as a potential opponent and as a sitting senator,” he said. Williams, a South Carolina-based campaign strategist, is a former senior economic adviser to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
“Senator Klobuchar did a great job in her Fox News town hall,” said Republican strategist Brian Darling. “Her strength was that she was in Wisconsin and was speaking to a state that narrowly voted for President Trump, and she discussed her struggle with her dad’s addiction in a way that shows her humanity.”
But Darling cautioned that, while “any time a candidate has one hour on a major network to make their case, they are winning,” he said he doesn’t see “a pathway to victory for her campaign.”
Darling thinks Klobuchar’s most realistic hope is to be the Democrats’ vice-presidential nominee.
Klobuchar should get significant benefit from the Milwaukee event if the audience for the first Fox News Town Hall on April 15 is a reliable indicator.
Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist who challenged former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton until late in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, drew 2.6 million viewers.
The May 8 town hall audience was down significantly at 1.6 million views. But even down 1 million viewers, the Fox program was still the most-watched on cable news for the time slot, according to Nielsen Media Research figures reported by The Hill.
The 1.6 million viewers, however, was significantly better than the 1.1 million who watched Klobuchar’s CNN Town Hall on Feb. 18.
Earlier this year, the DNC, led by its chairman, Tom Perez of Maryland, opted to deny Fox News a role in televising debates among the Democratic candidates during the primary campaign.
Neither Sanders nor Klobuchar were explicitly defying the DNC by appearing on the town halls, same goes for Buttigieg and Gillibrand who are scheduled for May 19 and June 2 respectively.
Fox also hosted an April 4 Town Hall with former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, a Democrat who is considering running as an independent.