Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is in Charlotte this week campaigning on behalf of President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, an effort meant to help fire up delegates and help the president win a close election.
But her speaking engagements are also raising the question of whether she is interested in a run for higher office — a possibility some bloggers raised because of her speaking schedule at the convention.
Klobuchar is scheduled to speak to seven state delegations this week and at several more private events. Her active schedule and the location of some of those speeches have some wondering whether Klobuchar is eyeing the White House in 2016.
On Tuesday, Klobuchar spoke to the delegates from South Carolina, which happens to be one of the first presidential primary states. This morning, she spoke to Democrats from Iowa — the first caucus state — and touched on several themes.
"It is just great to be here with my neighbors from Iowa," said Klobuchar, who couldn't resist a not-so-subtle dig at Republican Sarah Palin. "As you know, I can see Iowa from my porch." Iowa's role in the presidential nominating process wasn't lost on Klobuchar.
"You are a state that makes or breaks presidents, right?" she asked the state's delegates. "And to invoke the names of the Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, we are a state that makes vice presidents who run for president."
Klobuchar mentioned the importance of the farm bill &mdash a measure that is stuck in the Republican-controlled House.
"Have they noticed that there is a drought?" she asked. "It might be raining out here but not in the Midwest, so we need to get it done."
Klobuchar also spoke of the importance of reelecting President Obama. She said he is better qualified than Republican nominee Mitt Romney, suggesting at one point that Romney isn't prepared to take the Oval Office.
She told her audience that on Romney's first international trip as a candidate, to London, he insulted his hosts.
"Before he even puts two feet on the ground, he puts one foot in his mouth and creates an international incident and pisses off our ally at the Olympics," she said. "This just doesn't make sense to me. Do you know what we call that in Minnesota? We call it a Mitt-stake."
Klobuchar's time in the spotlight could help set the stage for a national campaign as four years from now either President Obama will be finishing his second term or Mitt Romney will be finishing his first.
Two Minnesota Republicans — former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann, unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for president this year.
But Klobuchar insists she's not contemplating a 2016 run. Instead, she said she's focused on her run for re-election to the Senate against Republican Kurt Bills. She said there's no intrigue behind her talk to the Iowa delegation.
"I think every Minnesotan has a relative in Iowa or a friend in Iowa," she said. "So if you'd ask them what states would Amy speak at, I don't think they surprised that Wisconsin and Iowa would be on the list."
Several Iowans at the breakfast said they were impressed with Klobuchar but weren't willing to discuss the next presidential race.
Robin Roseman of Iowa City said Iowans keep an eye out for prospective candidates, but right now most Democrats are focused on winning the critical swing state for the president.
"People are interested in that, but to me, this election is not a shoo-in," Roseman said. "It's not a done deal."
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Sue Davorsky said organizing over the next 63 days before the election is what's most important for her and other delegates. But she acknowledged that speculation about the next election will start in 64 days.
"We know that 2016 will come," Davorsky said. "We don't know the shape of that race. We know that there will be national leaders in it and what I'm seeing at our breakfast and what I'm seeing at the convention is that we have a sparkling bench and it's pretty deep."
Davorsky handed out gift bags to the guest speakers. The gifts included a map of Iowa, but Davorsky said Klobuchar won't need that, since she lives so close.