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NASHUA, NEW HAMPSHIRE—The fairways along Fairway Drive were sheets of gray snow and ice. The Nashua Rotary Club was having its weekly luncheon at the Nashua Country Club and, for a certain slice of America, there’s nothing more self-defining that the local Rotary having its weekly luncheon at the local country club. It is the event horizon for big-fish-small-pond business types, and Amy Klobuchar wasted no time making common cause with Nashua’s entrepreneurial elite.
“Entrepreneurship in Minnesota, like in New Hampshire, is the engine of growth,” she said. “I really appreciate the service-over-self, and the work that your members do from the heart for people in the community. It goes on and on and on. And just so you know something that isn’t mentioned that often in my bios, I actually worked for 14 years in the private sector. I’m a big believer in entrepreneurship and I spent a lot of time on the Commerce Committee as well as the Judiciary Committee. I spent a lot of time on those issues, as have your two great senators, Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen.”
Applause followed the shoutouts. Amy is one of us!
Klobuchar was feeling chuffed Monday morning. Two polls had her breaking into the top three here. Of course, a CNN tracking poll released later on Monday afternoon had her in fifth place with seven percent of the vote, and a Quinnipiac national poll placed her fifth with four percent. (One poll the other day had her running behind Tulsi Gabbard. My conclusion? The polls are a mess and nobody knows anything.) Still, bounces are what you make of them, and Klobuchar was still riding high on media fluffing after a good debate performance Friday night, a showing that brought in a $2-million haul for her chronically cash-strapped campaign.
One of the ways you could tell she was chuffed is that she was starting to nibble pieces for herself not from her fellow moderates like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, but from the two progressive candidates, especially Senator Professor Warren. (Her attitude toward Bernie Sanders is pretty much the same as it’s always been: she “understands” the forces behind Sanders and what they expect from politics, but his solutions are devoid of good ol’ midwestern thinkin’.) For example, she spoke at length about her work on the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee, something she admitted from jump that she hadn’t made a big part of her political CV.
This is a weird fact you don’t know about me, but I am the ranking member of the Senate antitrust committee. Remember antitrust, way back? It was actually, and has been, very bipartisan, because it’s about competition. Our Founding Fathers, when they started, part of the reason they broke up from England is that they didn’t want to have to deal with one monopoly. The East India Tea Company. They wanted to be able to sell their goods and buy goods from anyone they wanted, and from that came this fierce sense of independence in our country, and a lot of bristling when monopolies would come in. It’s why we have the Sherman [Anti-Trust] Act. Sherman was actually a Republican senator from Ohio, and it was what Teddy Roosevelt rode his horse into the White House on. I think more needs to be done to step back and look at consolidation in this country.
Beyond the misty, water-colored ex-post-facto defense of John Hancock’s smuggling empire, and the strange observation that TR rode his horse into the White House, there isn’t a lot of there there. By contrast, as long ago as last June, Warren made breaking up monopolies a central part of her campaign theme of fighting corruption, aiming particularly at the tech giants. That in the flush of her first extended good news of the campaign, Klobuchar decided to talk even Tinkertoy trust-busting to the rotary club is an indication that she’s thinking past New Hampshire, at least at the moment.
Around the country, one of the classic fundraising tools for local Rotarians is to hold mass gatherings at which people chip in to play Monopoly, usually using geographically correct game boards and, occasionally, actual human game pieces. Watch a presidential campaign long enough, and you’ll see a stark resemblance.
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