As the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates examined new poll numbers and stated their case to Iowa voters over the weekend, Sen. Amy Klobuchar continued campaigning on a moderate path — even though she balks at that label.
The Minnesota Democrat increasingly is selling herself as an alternative to extreme views on both sides of the aisle.
"If you are tired of the noise and the nonsense ... if you are tired of the extremes in our politics, then you have a home with me," she told the crowd Saturday at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry in Des Moines.
The new Iowa Poll released over the weekend by the Des Moines Register, CNN and other partners showed Klobuchar's support was up slightly compared to June, from 2 to 3 percent support among likely Iowa caucus participants. But Klobuchar remained tied for sixth in the poll.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren led the latest poll at 22 percent, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden at 20 percent, Sen. Bernie Sanders at 11 percent and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9 percent. Sen. Kamala Harris is at 6 percent, and Sen. Cory Booker is tied with Klobuchar at 3 percent.
Klobuchar has traveled extensively throughout the country since entering the race for president in February, with an emphasis on the early states in the nomination process.
She has spent more time campaigning in Iowa than any other place, with 18 trips and dozens of events. Prior to the release of the latest poll, Klobuchar spoke with MPR News about her prospects in Iowa.
"The polls will go up and down but what we’ve got is an incredible team here in Iowa. We’ve got the most endorsements of sitting and former legislators (and) by the time we get to February that’s all going to matter," she said.
Political analysts say Klobuchar needs to do well in her neighboring state if she’s to have a shot at becoming President Trump’s Democratic challenger next year.
Striking a moderate tone, Klobuchar calls the Green New Deal “aspirational,” and she opposes Medicare for All and free four-year college.
“I don’t just want to be president for half of America, I want to be president for all of America," she said Saturday. "That is how we win.”
Klobuchar and almost all the other Democratic contenders attended Saturday's steak fry. Klobuchar ripped Trump and underscored the importance of Democratic party-building. She said Democrats need took beyond defeating Trump next year.
“You cannot just do it by winning the presidency," she said. "You have to bring in our fired-up base and you have to bring along independents, and moderate Republicans, and win big — and that is what I am going to do.”
Carolyn Krafka of Des Moines was among the thousands attending the steak fry. She was wearing campaign stickers for Buttigieg, Warren and Harris — but not Klobuchar.
Krafka said Klobuchar is not her favorite candidate, but she still does like the Minnesota senator.
“I was very impressed with her in the last debate," she said. "I don’t know a whole lot about (her) other than just what I’ve seen, but I also liked ... where she had made the comment that she is for all Americans and not just the left, or just not the right. She’s like, 'You have to be able to reach everybody if you’re going to be able to accomplish anything.'"
John Davis of nearby Ames also attended the steak fry. The Klobuchar supporter said he thinks the senator "lacks a little bit of excitement" but that "we need a lot less excitement."
Wearing an "Amy for Iowa" T-shirt with an "Amy" sticker, Davis said he likes Klobuchar's moderate approach.
"I think she’s a good candidate I think if people listen to her they will hear good things come out of her mouth," he said. "I don’t think she’s promising more than she can deliver."
Although the latest Iowa Poll has Klobuchar well behind the leaders, only one in five respondents said they had made a final decision on who to support. And nearly two out of three told pollsters they’re open to supporting someone other than the candidates they’re currently backing.
Judy Downs, executive director of Polk County Democrats, warned not to place too much emphasis on polls with the Iowa caucuses still several months away.
“I think it's anything but settled," she said of the Democratic field. "It's still really anyone’s race. The energy on the ground is really palpable for a lot of campaigns, not just the front-runners."
Klobuchar got a lot more press in September after the third debate compared to the previous two, and her campaign also claims a surge of support following the latest forum. She’ll have another opportunity to make her case before a national audience in the fourth debate, which takes in place in mid-October.