Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar maintained she wouldn’t make promises she couldn’t keep as President and emphasized her ability to win in red districts at Tuesday night’s Democratic Presidential debate. This put her in more of a middle-of-road position as many of her fellow candidates argued over how progressive a Democratic nominee needs to be.
Klobuchar started out with stating she wouldn’t make promises that were too big, a pattern that would follow with her stances of things like health care and college affordability.
“You're going to hear a lot of promises up here, but I'm gonna will tell you this. Yes, I have bold ideas but they are grounded in reality. And, yes, I will make some simple promises,” she said.
The senator’s first question came in the form of a reaction to previous comments from Senator Elizabeth Warren, who said candidates opposed to Medicare for All were “not willing to fight for it.” Klobuchar responded by saying she didn’t want to kick people off of their existing insurance plans and instead offer public option, a stance echoed by candidates like former Rep. John Delaney.
"Clearly this is the quickest way to get things done. People can’t wait," she said.
Senator Bernie Sanders pushed back, claiming those with private insurance aren’t always covered and still face high costs.
"People talk about having insurance. There are millions of people who have insurance who can’t go to the doctor and when they come out of the hospital they go bankrupt."
Healthcare was one of the most talked-about issue on stage Monday night, with conversations dominated by Sanders and Warren, both supporters of Medicare for All. According to CNN, Warren talked for a total of around 18 minutes, the most of any of the 10 candidates. Sanders was close behind, compared to Klobuchar’s 10 minutes.
Klobuchar on immigration, guns
Immigration issues came up next, with candidates being asked if they would decriminalize undocumented border crossings. South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said under him, crossing illegally would still be a crime, but handled instead under civil law.
Currently, crossing illegally can be handled either as a misdemeanor or as a civil violation.
“We’ve got a crisis on our hands. And it’s not just a crisis of immigration. It’s a crisis of cruelty and incompetence.”
Klobuchar did not address decriminalizing crossings, but said a willingness for reform does exist in Congress. She said what’s needed is “the right person in the White House.”
Her plan revolves around allowing refugees to seek asylum, securing the border and processing cases more efficiently to help immigrants become citizens.
Buttigieg emphasized his age when the issue of gun violence came up, noting he was in high school when the Columbine massacre took place.
Klobuchar’s stance on gun violence was rooted in taking on the National Rifle Association. "The people are with us," she said of support for gun control measures. The issue, she said, is that politicians will eventually “fold” to the NRA.
These remarks led to a larger conversation about corporate money in politics.
Marianne Williamson, an unexpected standout of Tuesday’s debate, called for a constitutional amendment and public campaign funding.
"The issue of gun safety is that the NRA has us in a chokehold. But so do the pharmaceutical companies and so do the health insurance companies and so do the fossil fuel companies and so do the defense contractors," she said.
She says her opponents can't fund their promises
Klobuchar was later pressed on her claims that policies like Medicare for All and tuition-free public college were promises her opponents couldn’t keep. Moderators asked her what candidates were making such promises.
The senator responded by stating everyone on stage was trying to get elected. She said policies like Medicare for All might win an argument but will not win an election.
“I think how we win an election by bring everyone with us. I have won in those districts that Donald Trump won by 20 points."
Finally, on the issue of college affordability, Klobuchar once again took a more moderate stance.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke said he supports tuition-free two-year college and would support trade work as a viable option for students.
While Sanders said he supports tuition-free college for all students, Klobuchar said she would focus resources on the neediest students and emphasized loan refinancing as an option. She criticized plans she said would send wealthy students to college for free, claiming it would add to the nation’s growing debt.
“I want to make it easier for kids to go to college.” she said. “My problem with some of these plans is they literally would pay for wealthy kids, for Wall Street kids, to go to college.”
Klobuchar closed by saying she would govern with “integrity.”
"We have a President where people turn off the TV when they see him. Not me. I will make you proud as your president."