“When I said that elected leaders should go not just where it’s comfortable, but also where it’s uncomfortable, I meant it,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, arms outstretched as if to catch the steady snow falling on her and her supporters, gathered at Boom Island Park in 17-degree weather to hear her announce that she was launching a campaign to become the U.S. President.
Her Feb. 10 address included local and personal references – the collapse of the 35W bridge and its rebuilding, her grandfather’s work as a miner on the Iron Range, her father’s education at Vermilion Community College and the University of Minnesota, and his career as a journalist – and she widened the scope of her remarks to national concerns.
Klobuchar outlined a platform that included addressing climate change through reinstating clear power rules and gas mileage standards and legislation fostering green jobs and infrastructure. “The people are on our side when it comes to climate change. Why? Because like you and I, they believe in science,” she said.
She mentioned enhanced digital privacy and pledged to end the digital divide by 2022. Closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, universal health care, and reining in the rising cost of pharmaceuticals also are on her agenda, she said.
She touched upon international relations without specifics, saying that we need to stand strong – and consistently – with our allies and clear in our purpose, with respect for frontline military and diplomats. “… a safer world is not just about what we do here at home. Even if you want to isolate yourself from the rest of the world, the rest of the world won’t let you. International problems come banging on our door.”
Comprehensive immigration reform also was on her list. “Stop the fear-mongering and stop the hate,” she said, telling a story of a Somali-American’s girl’s response to a stranger stopping at the table where her family was dining in a restaurant. “You four go home. Go home from where you came from,” the man said; the girl’s response: “Mom, I don’t want to go home. You said we could eat out tonight.”
She referred to the idea of community multiple times. “I’m asking you to not look down and not look away. I’m asking you to look up. To look at each other … let us rise to the occasion and meet the challenges of our day.”
By the time Klobuchar came on stage, the mood was joyful and high energy as Democratic elected officials Governor Tim Walz, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, U.S. Senator Tina Smith, and mayors Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, Emily Larson of Duluth, and Jonathan Judd of Moorhead revved up the crowd. Before that, some attendees sang and danced (perhaps to keep warm) to tunes served up by DJ Dudley D., who traveled with Prince for many years.
Some of the elected officials’ remarks focused on Klobuchar as a strong woman, the first woman elected U.S. Senator from Minnesota, how women have stepped up to fill a vacuum in the history of the world, and, in the case of Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman (whose remarks and prayer opened the event, after the presentation of the colors by AMVETS Post 5 and Sounds of Blackness), women’s role in the Bible.
That was exactly why Rob Johnson of Woodbury, who arrived very early for the event, brought his young daughter Avery, whom he towed on a sled. “For Avery to see this, it’s a wonderful opportunity to see a strong woman,” he said.
Below: Amy Klobuchar, gold coat, followed by husband John Bessler and daughter Abigail Bessler Klobuchar, greeted Governor Tim Walz, red-and-black jacket, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, gray coat, and U.S. Senator Tina Smith, tan coat. (Photo by Karen Kraco). The crowd found lots of things to do with Klobuchar’s many colored signs. (First photo by Liz Jensen, second photo by Nik Linde). Rob Johnson came from Woodbury with his daughter Avery for an opportunity to “see a strong woman.” (Photo by Karen Kraco).