Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar says she’s “troubled” by the thought that a democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, could be at the top of the Democratic Party ticket in November and instead believes the key to unseating President Trump is an unifying candidate who has a proven track record.
In an interview with CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe aboard her campaign bus following an event in Keene, New Hampshire, Klobuchar was pressed about being the lone candidate on stage at Friday’s Democratic primary debate to raise her hand when moderator George Stephanopoulos asked whether anyone was worried about having a democratic socialist for a presidential nominee.
“The question should be why didn’t everyone else raise their hand?” the Minnesota senator said. “But they didn’t, because people are 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.”
The question struck at the heart of tensions within the Democratic party and concerns about whether Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist and 2020 front-runner, can defeat Mr. Trump in November.
Klobuchar, who is battling Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg to win moderate voters, said that while she is friends with Sanders and has worked with him on tackling the cost of prescription drugs, he is not the candidate to lead the party in the 2020 election.
“People are tired of the extremes in our politics and the noise and the nonsense,” she said, adding that voters looking for a candidate who can “bring in ideas and actually get them done” have a “home” with her.
The Minnesota senator also said it would be a “lot tougher” for freshman Democrats from swing states to hold on to their seats in November if Sanders is the nominee.
Klobuchar has surged in the wake of Friday’s debate, leaving election watchers to say she has gained “Klo-mentum.”
A pair of polls conducted on the heels of the contest put Klobuchar in third behind Sanders and Buttigieg, ahead of both Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Klobuchar tweeted that in the two days after the debate — the last before New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday — her campaign raked in $3 million.
“The debates have been an even playing field for me,” she told CBS News. “People can’t buy their way into being able to respond on the debate stage. They can’t have the bigger name. So, people are able to look at the candidates and think, ‘Wait a minute, who can really stand up to Donald Trump? Who has ideas that are similar to mine?'”
Seven Democrats vying for the presidential nomination were on the debate stage Friday, but absent was Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City who is self-funding his presidential campaign and as a result, has not met the donor threshold to qualify.
In making her pitch to voters, Klobuchar said she will “bring decency to the White House” and vowed that as president, she is someone Americans “will never be embarrassed about when you watch TV.”
“We cannot out-divide the divider-in-chief,” Klobuchar said. “We need a candidate whose focus is on bringing decency back and understanding that while this is an economic check on this president because we don’t have shared prosperity, it is also a decency check and a patriotism check. That’s how you bring independents and moderate Republicans with you.”