Jennifer Rubin: 'Challenger has the 'true grit' to send a shiver up Trump's back'
No-one would plan a presidential kick-off in a snowstorm, but in the case of Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar, who will run as a politician with "grit" as she described herself from the heartland of America, the grace with which she and other Minnesota politicians handled the state's infamous winter conditions could not have been more helpful to her presidential chances.
The contrast with a deceitful president, a man who inherited wealth and avoids physical challenges (whether it was the war in Vietnam or a rainy day at a WWI cemetery), could not have been more stark. Klobuchar stood without a tent, an umbrella - or even a hat.
"I don't come from money" was the perfect line for someone running as a proudly middle-class American - with just the right amount of pride and defiance. ("I have family. I have friends. I have neighbours," she continued. "I have all of you who are willing to come out in the middle of the winter, all of you who took the time to watch us today, all of you who are willing to stand up and say people matter.")
She vowed: "I promise you this: As your president, I will look you in the eye. I will tell you what I think. And no matter what, I'll lead from the heart."
First, she made online privacy a top issue - something no other candidate has yet done and is the kind of real-life concern voters have. And she sounded like she knew what she was talking about. ("We need to put some digital rules of the road into law when it comes to privacy. For too long the big tech companies have been telling you 'Don't worry! We've got your back!'")
Second, she elevated a health-care issue for which she can claim ownership. "We are teaming up to pass meaningful legislation to bring in competitive safe drugs from other countries to stop Big Pharma's practice of paying off generic companies to keep their products off the market," she said. "We're going to harness the negotiating power of 43 million seniors - that's a lot of negotiating power - and lift the ban on negotiating cheaper drug prices under Medicare."
Third, with a pitch-perfect answer, she brushed aside news reports painting her as the boss from hell. "Yes, I can be tough, and yes, I can push people," Klobuchar said. "I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work for me, but I have high expectations for this country." She continued: "In the end, there are so many great stories of our staff that have been with me for years."
Klobuchar enters a crowded field. However, she showed the kind of tenacity and you-see-what-you-get quality an underdog candidate needs to win over Iowa residents one living room at a time and win New Hampshire voters one Granite State town hall at a time.
If nothing else, she proved Sunday not to underestimate her toughness.
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