Maybe Amy Klobuchar will be the La’Veon Bell of the 2020 Democratic field. She waited behind the line, dancing around in the backfield, but then saw a small opening and explosively exploited it. After inexplicably being the only person on stage to express concern over Bernie Sanders’ surge and having a socialist at the top of the Democratic field, Klobuchar spent today fully embracing the Socialist Scourge message … in a Minnesota Nice manner.
Or maybe she’ll just be the New York Jets of the field, full of promise only to end up in last place. Apologies to Jazz Shaw, but ya gotta commit to the bit, man:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 10, 2020
ED O’KEEFE, CBS NEWS: In Friday night’s debate, you were the only one to raise your hand when asked if you had concerns about the potential of a self-described Democratic Socialist atop the Democratic Party in November’s elections. Elaborate again on why you’re concerned about Sanders being the nominee.
KLOBUCHAR: [Crosstalk] The question should be why everyone else didn’t raise their hand. But they didn’t, because people were looking at each other and it may not be popular, and you’re going to anger some people. But I believe in leading, and doing what you think is right. And that’s why I raised my hand, because I am troubled by having a socialist lead our ticket. I like Bernie — we are friends, he would tell you that as well. We have worked together on prescription drug prices and the like.
But I think a candidate like me, who is able to bring in ideas and actually get them done — as I’ve said so many times, that people are tired of the extremes in our politics and the noise and the nonsense, that they have a home with me. That to me is the ticket of winning big.
That hand-raise is likely why Klobuchar’s getting a bump in New Hampshire polling. I’ll have more on that phenomenon later, but Klobuchar’s right to call out the others on stage for not demonstrating their own obvious discomfort over this same issue. Sanders has mostly eschewed the party over his career for his own brand of Socialism, and none of the others are troubled by the prospect of him winning the nomination? Come on, man.
On the other hand, this interview demonstrates why Klobuchar hasn’t caught fire until now, either. It’s easy to distinguish the labels, but it’s a lot tougher to draw a distinction between Sanders and the rest of the field on policy, Klobuchar included. All she’s selling here is a softer, more welcoming approach, not really a centrist policy perspective. And Klobuchar isn’t even selling it so much as describing it, in her taciturn and relatively undynamic manner.
Klobuchar actually does better as a pundit, even when disclaiming such a role:
O’KEEFE: Can those freshmen members of Congress in Minnesota, in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, and elsewhere get re-elected if Bernie Sanders is the nominee?
KLOBUCHAR: I think it will be a lot tougher. I’m not going to be a pundit and make predictions, but if you look at the models of how we won in, say, the governor’s race in Kentucky, where Mitch McConnell now has a Democratic governor, if you look at how we flipped the Senate and the House in the state of Virginia, if you look at as you note those House races, including in my own state in suburban areas, those candidates — they weren’t celebrities. They were simply good people who fit their states or fit their districts and pledged to go there to do the work for the people.
Gretchen Whitmer, who we all just heard after the State of the Union, I’ve been mentioning her for a long time, the governor of Michigan. Laura Kelly, the new Democratic governor of Kansas — again, not celebrities, fit the states, got in independents, got in moderate Republicans, and built a big coalition. [crosstalk]
O’KEEFE: And Bernie could spoil that if he’s the nominee?
KLOBUCHAR: I don’t want to spoil that. I don’t want to, in my words, screw this up.
That’s the Democratic establishment position in a nutshell. They bounced back in 2018 by embracing moderation, and it’s hard to imagine screwing that up more than by putting a socialist at the top of the ticket in 2020. If it comes down to a brokered convention and a draft, though, Whitmer and Kelly might be more likely candidates for it than Klobuchar.
But if she does pull it off … I owe George Will an apology.