Media outlets have “discovered” her, so coverage of her campaign has increased, as have her bookings on cable and network TV news programs.
Part of her success is attributable to her aggressive challenging of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare-for-all scheme. Klobuchar likes to say she does not want to “trash” President Barack Obama’s achievement but rather build on it. while Warren is now scrambling to show how a plan costing $30 trillion or more over 10 years is going to be funded. (Hint: If Sen. Bernie Sanders had to resort to taxing those making over $29,000 and adding to the payroll tax, Warren is going to have a tough time.) And Klobuchar got a boost this week when it was announced that Obamacare premiums will be going down.
Klobuchar has a couple of other possible lines of attack that both undermine Warren and boost her own résumé .
For starters, the Massachusetts Democrat’s trade plan has been widely panned by both Republicans and Democrats. Daniel W. Drezner wrote in The Post: “It’s a great plan — if you don’t like the benefits of trade and want to see it restricted as severely as possible. If you think freer trade is good for the economy and good for foreign policy, then it’s the mother of all dumpster fires … Warren’s trade policy would actually be more protectionist in its effects than Trump’s, something that I did not think was possible.”
Contrast that with Klobuchar, who is likely the most knowledgeable Democratic presidential candidate when it comes to farmers and trade. (“Klobuchar largely sticks to mainstream agricultural policy proposals, eschewing more liberal reforms sought by other candidates like Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.),” Politico reported in August. “Warren and Sanders, for example, seek to improve the farm economy by aggressively targeting consolidation in the industry and propose breaking up large companies that have taken on outsize power in the pesticide, seed and meatpacking sectors.”) She has railed about Trump’s tariff war, which she describes as “complete chaos.” In Iowa, trade policy and agricultural fluency matter.
In addition, Klobuchar advocates a balanced internationalist foreign policy, which contrasts with Warren’s more radical message. She commented on Syria in the last debate. “We need to work with our allies, to work with Turkey and bring them out. This is an outrageous thing that happened here,” she declared. “And I think we need to talk about this not only in terms of the horror of what happened here with Turkey, but the fact that our president blew it and now he’s too proud to say it.” She continued: “And what do we do now? We continue that humanitarian aid, but then we work with our allies to say come back, Turkey, and stop this … Think about our other allies, Israel. How do they feel right now? Donald Trump is not true to his word when they are a beacon of democracy in the Mideast. Think about our allies in Europe when he pulls out of the Iranian agreement and gives them holding the bag and gives the power to China and Russia.”
Klobuchar has a short-term goal (get into the next debate) and a longer-term goal (do well in Iowa). For the first time in the race, it seems her “moderate from the heartland” message might work, especially if she can set up a contrast with super-progressive candidates whose electability and radical plans become more suspect as the primary goes on.