When the presidential campaign started last year, I wrote a piece about why I liked Amy Klobuchar. Since then I’ve written pieces about most of the other candidates and have seriously considered them all. After a lot of thought, I’m sticking with Amy.
As I’ve said before, Klobuchar has been the little engine that could. She maintained discipline and kept the ball moving forward throughout the primary process. She never seems to get rattled and showed poise and smarts, delivering the most consistent debate performances of the bunch. After a grueling primary season that started with debates in June, she’s still standing and still gaining momentum. She announced yesterday that’s she brought in $12 million in the wake of the New Hampshire debate. That’s more than she raised during the whole fourth quarter.
I also think Klobuchar matches up best with Trump. I don’t think he can rattle her, but I think she can rattle him. She has broad appeal and an ability to connect to middle class voters, particularly those who voted for both Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. I also think she would excite women voters. She could widen an already yawning gap between Trump and women.
On the down side, I wish she had better connections to African American voters in the South and trust that she will work to build bridges quickly. I also assume she’s been trying to lay that groundwork already.
I also believe the stories about her as a mean and sometimes cruel boss are true. While they’re disturbing, they aren’t disqualifying for me. I’ve worked with some supreme assholes in my time who made good elected officials. I also think that if she were too flawed, her behavior would have prevented the campaign for existing this long without an incident going public. Clearly, she’s got dedicated competent people who have stuck with her through the process.
Finally, I think she would make a good president. She brings the gravity to the office that we’ve clearly lacked. Her no-nonsense personae indicates she won’t suffer fools so we won’t have drama and petty scandals surrounding her administration. She understands the process in Washington and could hit the ground running to push through a pragmatic progressive agenda that begins to address the ills that brought us Trump in the first place.
That said, I considered, and at times favored, many of the other candidates. I wanted to support Joe Biden. I’ve like him for most of his career. I think he’s a good and decent man who has served honorably and understands the struggles of average Americans. Unfortunately, I think he’s past his prime. He sounds more like a candidate yearning to return to a time that has gone than a candidate looking toward a vastly different future. He’s naïve in believing that there are a lot of Republicans willing to work with him on Capitol Hill.
I also think the Ukraine scandal exposed the type of privilege that made too many Americans reject Hillary Clinton. Hunter Biden may have done nothing illegal, but the unsavory connections that got him a gig that pays hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing little or nothing is exactly what Americans want to stop in Washington. The reformer we need right now should understand that we’re trying to get past the point we’ve reached, not go back to the place we were right before we got here.
For a while I thought Warren had what we needed. She’s clearly smart and knows what we need to do to fix much of our nation. However, I think she lacks political skills and her weaknesses would be exploited by Trump and the GOP. She gets baited into bad fights. It happened when she got a DNA test trying to prove her heritage and it happened when she spent a week last fall trying to explain her support for Medicare For All.
She’s also prone to exaggeration. She claimed Native American status when she didn’t have it. She told an activist that her children went to public schools when one went to private schools. She claimed she lost a job because she was pregnant when she really left it voluntarily. While her exaggerations pale compared to Trump’s constant lies, they’ll be used to muddy the water in a bruising campaign.
I like Buttigieg but I just don’t think he matches up with Trump well at all. I think his inexperience is easily exploited and he looks like a grad student, not a president. His cerebral demeanor is similar to Obama’s but I don’t believe most Americans are looking for that right now. I think he would lose the general election even if his rhetoric and reason made us proud to be Democrats.
I think Bloomberg is a fascinating , if not disturbing, political phenomenon. He’s built a campaign in record time and proven that money can buy a lot support. He’s also built the right infrastructure. His ads are hard-hitting and telling the truth about Trump in a way that nobody else has. He’s put together formidable operations on the ground with very professional staff. He appears to be a strong candidate in the primary and might be one in the general.
However, Bloomberg makes a mockery of the primary system. He’s shown that money can bypass the vetting process. If he’s successful, I fear we’ll enter into a period where only billionaires or their lackeys can be President of the United States. That’s not what we tell our children and that’s certainly not what the Founding Fathers intended.
I also find his treatment of women disturbing and his defense of stop and frisk and redlining telling. He’s more interested in results than people. He doesn’t see individuals. He sees groups and profiles. That undermines my belief that liberty and freedom are rooted in justice and equality for everyone.
Bloomberg’s strategy may backfire. He’s been telling people that he’s running in case Biden falters. Well, Biden seems to have faltered but Klobuchar and Buttigieg seem poised to step into the void. Now, instead of letting the pragmatists sort out the primary and determine who becomes the anti-Bernie candidate, Bloomberg may split the vote even more, giving Sanders even bigger pluralities on Super Tuesday.
Finally, I worry that the left flank of the Democratic Party won’t come out for Bloomberg. The key to success in November is to keep the base intact and to win the middle. He might be able to sway the Obama-Trump voters but if the Sanders wing of the party either stays home or votes third party, Trump gets re-elected.
As for Bernie Sanders, I think he’s the least likely to beat Trump. He’s not like Obama who had a large base of people just waiting for him to prove that he was viable. And he’s not like Trump who tapped into deep-seated resentment against the economic and political elite to attract both Obama change voters and disaffected whites who hadn’t been voting. Instead, Sanders has remained steady. His support hasn’t grown or shrunk and, after two runs, I think everybody he’s going to excite is already on his train. He’s not changing the general election electorate and he may depress turnout among the moderates Democrats need to win or he may lose them to Trump.
Maybe Sanders can pull out a victory with strong support from union groups in the Midwest, but I can pretty confidently say that he can’t win North Carolina. I’m as concerned about our state as I am about the nation and I fear that Sanders candidacy will leave us with a Republican legislature drawing districts and Thom Tillis in place for six more years. I’m not willing to take that chance.
So with that, I’ll support Amy Klobuchar in the primary and hope that her performance in the upcoming Nevada caucus and South Carolina primary sustains the fundraising she’s seen post-New Hampshire. She’s not perfect because there is no perfect candidate but she’s as good an antidote to Trump as anybody running. Beating Trump is my top priority and she seems to have the best shot at doing that.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >