Who Is Amy Klobuchar?
Known for her pragmatism and for successfully reaching across the aisle, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who started out as a corporate lawyer, has been re-elected to her Senate seat multiple times since her first election in 2006. In February 2019 she announced her candidacy in the 2020 Democratic presidential race, before exiting the field in March 2020.
Early Life and Education
Amy Jean Klobuchar was born on May 25, 1960, in Plymouth, Minnesota. Her mother was an elementary school teacher, while her father was a sportswriter for the Star Tribune. She has a younger sister.
Klobuchar's parents divorced when she was 15. She has publicly shared about her past contentious relationship with her father due to his alcoholism and that they later made amends after he stopped drinking.
Excelling in academics, Klobuchar was valedictorian of her high school and went on to study political science at Yale, graduating in 1982. After receiving her B.A., she was accepted at the University of Chicago to study law and graduated in 1985.
After law school, Klobuchar went to work as a county prosecutor and later became a partner at two different Minnesota law firms in the Minneapolis area. Her interest in politics came about when she gave birth to her daughter, who was discovered to have swallowing issues. Despite her daughter's condition, the hospital demanded Klobuchar leave since her 24-hour window of admission had expired. Ired by her experience, she lobbied her state legislature, demanding hospital stay be extended to 48 hours for all new mothers and their newborns. She was successful at turning her advocacy into state law, and President Bill Clinton later signed it into federal law.
Judge Kavanaugh Hearings
The controversial SCOTUS nomination of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 pushed Klobuchar into the national spotlight when, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she was seen as cool-headed and fair-minded as she questioned the nominee. Having explained her own experience living with an alcoholic father, Klobuchar proceeded to ask Kavanaugh if he had ever blacked out from excessive drinking. Offended and irate, Kavanaugh threw the question back at her. He later apologized for his reactionary response towards her.
“There’s a lot of people that do things to try to go viral, but I didn’t do it for that reason, nor did I ever think it was going to get so much attention,” she told Vogue. Admittedly taken aback by the nominee's belligerent response, Klobuchar said she teased her staff by asking, "You guys didn’t anticipate that the nominee was going to ask me if I blacked out?" She added that Kavanaugh's reaction "was also kind of sad.”
2020 Presidential Campaign
Klobuchar announced her 2020 presidential run on February 10, 2019. Employing her sense of humor (one journalist described it as "Minnesota mom jokes") regularly on the campaign trail, Klobuchar also bet that — jokes aside — her realistic, middle-of-the-road approach to policy would attract voters in the battleground states.
Serving her third term in the Senate, Klobuchar tried to get the message across that she could attract voters in both blue and red states. The Atlantic described her as someone who "proved, time and again, that she can win. It’s the premise of her entire campaign: Americans need someone who can appeal to voters in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that swung toward Trump in 2016, and she’s one of the few Democrats with a proven ability to win red areas."
Klobuchar's campaign endured as the once-crowded Democratic field narrowed to single digits, but, save for a surprise third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, she consistently trailed fellow moderates Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg. In early March 2020, after Biden ran away with a convincing win in the South Carolina primary, Klobuchar announced that she was ending her campaign and endorsing the former vice president.
A vocal critic of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren's "Medicare for All" plans, Klobuchar believed in adding onto the existing Affordable Care Act by providing a public option. She referred to "Medicare for All" as an "aspiration," calling it a "bad idea" to force people off of private insurance.
Additionally, Klobuchar sponsored a bipartisan bill designed to lower prescription drug costs as well as the age requirement for those eligible for Medicare.
In her first 100 days in office, Klobuchar said she would reenter the Paris Agreement, negotiate for even stronger emissions standards and bring back the Clean Power Plan as well as fuel economy standards. While not a proponent of the Green New Deal, she said she wanted to set America on the path to net-zero emissions by the year 2050.
Again at odds with the progressives who pushed for completely eliminating college debt, Klobuchar instead called for refinancing student loan debt to help reduce costs and providing tuition-free technical training and community college. She also supported increasing teachers' pay.
Klobuchar advocated for reforming ICE — not abolishing it — and offering undocumented immigrants without criminal records a pathway to citizenship.
Klobuchar is a staunch pro-choice supporter.
Klobuchar married fellow Minnesotan lawyer John Bessler in 1993. Bessler is a law professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and also teaches at the Georgetown University Law Center as an adjunct professor.
Together, the couple has one daughter, Abigail Bessler, who was born in 1995 and is a graduate from her mother's alma mater, Yale University. Abigail lives in New York City, where she works at the New York City Council and also does stand-up comedy on the side.
Klobuchar attends the United Church of Christ, which is described as a Mainline Protestant church. The church places a high value on interfaith relations and upholds liberal views on sexual orientation, abortion, civil rights and women's rights.
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