WESTERVILLE, Ohio — Amy Klobuchar prides herself on being “Minnesota nice,” but the senator dropped any sweetness during Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate, taking pointed jabs at primary competitor Elizabeth Warren.
“At least Bernie’s being honest here and saying how he’s going to pay for this and that taxes are going to go up,” Klobuchar said when her Massachusetts Senate colleague repeatedly declined to say whether middle-class Americans would face higher taxes under a “Medicare for all” single-player healthcare plan. “The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done.”
Klobuchar, who promotes a relatively moderate platform, tore into progressive Warren for suggesting that her signature ultra-rich wealth tax was an expression of better values than the tax plans of her rivals.
“I want to give a reality check here to Elizabeth because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires,” Klobuchar said, referring to hedge fund manager and 2020 contender Tom Steyer. “You know, I think simply because you have different ideas doesn’t mean you’re fighting for regular people.”
Aaron Kall, debate coach at the University of Michigan, suggested that Klobuchar’s attacks could be a hail-mary attempt to gain traction.
“She struck me as a candidate that kind of knows the end may be near,” Kall told the Washington Examiner. “I thought that she had a strong performance but is so far back from the pack that given the time kind of remaining, I don’t think it’ll be enough. It’s a little bit too much too late.”
Klobuchar has not qualified for the November debate round due to a failure to meet the Democratic National Committee’s polling threshold.
Kall noted that Klobuchar softened her tough exterior during the last question of the debate about an unlikely friendship, which he said seemed “a little bit inconsistent.” The Minnesota senator talked about her friendship with the late Republican Sen. John McCain and congressional trips she took with him.