Amy Klobuchar took her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to New Hampshire with the results of the leadoff caucuses still unknown. Technical problems held up the Iowa results, but the Minnesota senator insists she did better than people thought she would.
When Klobuchar took the stage at her campaign party Monday night, not a single official result had been made public. Her campaign was keeping its own count but the senator didn’t say what that was.
Klobuchar told the crowd in a Des Moines hotel ballroom that she was feeling good about how she would fare in the end.
“We know there’s delays, but we know one thing: We are punching above our weight,” she said.
Klobuchar said she’d outlasted prior predictions of the demise of a campaign that launched in a Minneapolis blizzard.
“A lot of people didn’t predict I’d finish that speech. They were like, ‘How did she do it.’ Then in the summer they were saying, is she going to make it through the summer?”
The Iowa confusion was just the latest of an unusual finish for Klobuchar. She concentrated on the state but was pulled off the campaign trail for President Trump’s impeachment trial.
She arrived back Monday just as the caucuses had begun.
She went from the airport to a caucus site in Johnston, a suburb north of Des Moines. In two gymnasiums, she offered a mix of her biography and applause lines from her stump speech.
“What I want to do is build a beautiful blue wall around Iowa and the rest of our Midwestern states and make Donald Trump pay for it.”
The area is viewed as electoral swing turf, and the turnout was high.
As soon as the doors opened at six, people streamed in by the dozens and kept coming for the next hour. Some were new Democrats, requiring them to fill out registration cards. Officials punctuated each new registrant with a cowbell and a cheer.
After Klobuchar left the gym, there were short speeches by candidate supporters. A caucus convener ran through the rules. It took awhile and some in the room were getting restless.
After the first count, only Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren hit the 15 percent threshold to make them viable. Joe Biden’s campaign and that of Andrew Yang did not, giving those supporters a chance to pick a different candidate. Many opted for Klobuchar.
But nurse Melanie Weatherall did not. She came to the caucus wearing a crown and a flowing blue dress with Biden’s name on the back. Klobuchar’s backers worked to entice her to their section of the bleachers.
“Get the queen to come with us. I said if I thought Amy Klobuchar could beat Donald Trump or a Republican, I might be a different story. Joe Biden is the only one who can beat a Republican,” Weatherall said.
On the flip side was Woody Olesen-King. The retired respiratory therapist said he’s looking for an experienced hand who projects calm on the world stage. That’s been a big talking point of Biden, but Olesen-King said he decided on Klobuchar a couple of weeks ago.
“At this point, I think we need some fresh blood in there from the Democratic party that I feel like I can endorse Amy at this point instead of Joe,” Olesen-King said. “But I’ll go with anybody that gets the nomination. I will vote Democrat.”
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