Politics and Government

State Fair politics: Amy Klobuchar talks climate change, ag policy and Denmark

A woman waves to a crowd as she stands on a white porch.
U.S. Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar speaks to a crowd at the Minnesota State Fair during the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

U.S. Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Amy Klobuchar is at the Minnesota State Fair for its opening day. She’s earned enough national support to appear on the first fall debate stage. She stopped by the MPR booth to talk with Cathy Wurzer about agricultural policy, climate change, President Trump and Denmark.

Wurzer: You tweeted last night that Jay Inslee made the climate crisis a centerpiece of his campaign, and that the nation is better for it. You know there are many Democratic voters, especially young ones, who want to see something big done to avoid climate disaster. Do you worry about going too far left on climate change, maybe jeopardizing Democrats chances of beating President Trump?

Klobuchar: I don't look at it as left or right. And that's why I think Governor Inslee contributed so much to this discussion. We can't wait. This isn't something that is happening 100 years from now. It's happening right now. You have got flooding all over the Midwest. There's been fires. There's been weird tornadoes like we've never seen. I've been to Greenland — I've seen the massive, massive ice sheet, and you see it melting the size of millions of Olympic swimming pools in one day. This is something that we have to get at.

The president has decided to just close his eyes, deny it, and we don't need that right now. We need someone and I believe I'm the person that can get the votes to win, so that we can get back into the international climate change agreement on day one, get those clean power rules that President Obama had negotiated in place immediately, increase the gas mileage standards, even the American car companies want to do that, and then move on from there to more sweeping legislation during the first year. We cannot wait.

Wurzer: Let me ask about younger voters. Polls show that Warren and Sanders are right behind Biden. It appears that the younger voters are looking for a candidate who is farther to the left, and you're position yourself in the middle as a moderate. How do you track those younger Democrats?

Klobuchar: I think about myself as a progressive. A progressive means you make progress, and that's what I've done by actually getting things done. I think people are sick and tired of words and they are sick and tired of a president that hasn't kept his promises and is off pissing off the entire country of Denmark while the economic indicators show [we're] adding to the debt, [and] not moving our country ahead when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform.

This is what I know about a young people, given that I have a 24-year-old I know a little bit about this. One they're the most diverse group of generations that we have had in our country, and they care about things like how you treat people. And this president has been a disaster on that, and I am strongly supportive of comprehensive immigration reform.

They care about gun safety. I have been leading on this issue since my days as Hennepin County attorney when I came out for the assault weapon ban. I've been very firm on this from the beginning, and I'm one of the leaders on closing the boyfriend loophole. That is my bill and it's sitting on Mitch McConnell's doorstep, and it would make clear that domestic abusers cannot go out there and get a gun.

Third issue that young people care about is climate change. And I think, as I said at an American Indian forum this week in Iowa that we need leaders that make decisions not just for this generation but for seven generations from now. And then the final thing is student loans and making it easier for kids to go to college and having their back. Right now we have a president that hasn't done one thing and I will get that done.

Wurzer: So you're sitting at the Minnesota State Fair you've been at the Iowa State Fair, Ag policy is top of mind on the farmers are going through the fairgrounds there. What's your plan to improve the farm economy for them?

Klobuchar: First of all this president is someone that has been treating them like poker chips at one of his bankrupt casinos. He has started this trade war and of course we have to push on China. They're not a good player. They have ripped people off with subsidizing their industries and by manipulating currency and by stealing intellectual property.

Wurzer: So then you think the president is right to do what he's doing?

Klobuchar: I don't think he's right in the way he's done it. I think he's right to take on China, but I would have done it in a much different way. He was much too broad with these tariffs including when he affected the relationships with Canada and Mexico.

He has basically created a situation where it's even harder to negotiate. He's not been doing it with our allies. It's the same kind of attitude he has when it comes to getting out of the Iranian nuclear agreement — I would not have done that — and the Russian nuclear agreement — I would not have gotten out of that. And the other thing he does is when things start going bad does he try to fix them? No, he whines. He blames other people. He blames ahead of his Federal Reserve. He blames the press. He blames immigrants. He blames the entire nation of Denmark. He blames the city of Baltimore. People are sick of him whining.

Wurzer: Okay you get to go on the record right now. Is the Minnesota State Fair better than the Iowa State Fair?

Klobuchar: When I announced in the middle of that blizzard, I said that what unites us is more important than what divides us. They are just different.

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