Touting her record of winning elections in Minnesota, Klobuchar promised to bring in disenchanted Trump voters as well as the “fired-up Democratic base.”
That message resonated for many in the standing-room-only crowd at State Theater in Falls Church, which has a seated capacity of 850. Attendees said they are nervous about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who so far has the most delegates, and are struggling to determine which of the more moderate candidates would be best positioned to win both the nomination and the general election.
Scott Loomis of Fairfax County said everyone in his family will be voting for someone different — he for Klobuchar, his wife for former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg, his daughter for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and his son for Sanders. He said their differing choices are less about policy than about who they think has the best shot at beating Trump.
“Once Amy gets the nomination, I’m confident she could win,” said Loomis, 72, who is retired. “But I’m less confident she can get the nomination.”
Loomis said he is not sure who his second choice would be, but he dislikes the idea that former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, who skipped the early states and is self-funding his campaign, “could just come in and buy the nomination.”
Jeff Miles, also of Fairfax County, said he thinks Klobuchar has a better shot at beating Trump than Sanders would — and that she, unlike Sanders, would help down-ballot races.
“I’m extremely worried,” said Miles, a lifelong Democrat. “He [Sanders] would be a drag on both the House and Senate races.”
In a survey by Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Policy released Friday, 5 percent of likely Democratic voters in Virginia said they plan to support Klobuchar. Former vice president Joe Biden led the poll, receiving 22 percent of support, followed by Sanders at 17 percent and Bloomberg at 13 percent. Thirteen percent were still undecided.
In another blow on Friday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), the 2016 vice presidential nominee and an ally of Klobuchar’s in the Senate, announced he is backing Biden.
But Klobuchar was smiling Friday as she bantered with the crowd, which campaign spokesman Will McDonald said totaled more than 1,300 people. Offering her trademark reminder that she has won every race for elected office she’s competed in since fourth grade, she joked that she might bring back her grade-school slogan: “All the way with Amy K.”
“Well, it could be viral,” she said with a wry laugh. “I guess I need that.”
Some rallygoers said they were still making up their minds; others were from neighboring Maryland, which holds its primary April 28.
Jenny Solomon, a graduate student, and Alex Shewchuk, who works in finance, met in line and were talking through the strengths and weaknesses of each of the more moderate candidates.
Their takeaway: None are perfect, and there are a concerning number still in the field.
Shewchuk said he is especially worried that Sanders or Bloomberg will get the nomination, even though he does not think either of them really represents the Democratic Party. Solomon, who grew up in New Jersey, said she is offended by Bloomberg’s emphasis on stop-and-frisk policing as New York mayor and his unwillingness to fully apologize for it. She thinks Sanders would be an ineffective leader.
She said she has liked Warren for the longest amount of time, but her “gut instinct” is that Klobuchar has the best chance of appealing to voters outside the liberal Washington region. Klobuchar will get Solomon’s vote on Tuesday in Vienna.
Shewchuk said he is grateful he has a bit more time to decide.
Klobuchar will campaign in Richmond on Saturday. She won the endorsement of three Virginia state lawmakers in the past week: Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) and Del. David Reid (D-Ashburn).