One-on-One With Senator Amy Klobuchar

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Presidential hopeful Senator Amy Klobuchar made herself known at the fourth Democratic debate last Tuesday. As a result, she raised $1.1 million for her campaign in the 24 hours following the debate.

After a weekend of campaigning in Iowa, Channel 13 News sat down with the senator to ask her how her campaign would benefit Iowa directly. 

One of the most important issues for Iowa voters is the local economy. You visit one of the closed biofuel plants on Friday. As president what can you specifically offer to farmers and laid off workers who are experiencing hardship as a result of these waivers that President Trump has been granting?

Well, this has been outrageous because he made a promise. He went to Council Bluffs and he said ‘hey, I guess we will will make this better.’ And then he went back to Washington and they granted 31 more secret waivers to oil companies, not just little refineries, no. Companies like Chevron and Exxon. That’s what he’s done. I don’t know if he doesn’t know what his staff is doing, or if he just doesn’t care, but that’s what’s happened. It means that a number of biodiesel plant and ethanol plants across the country have closed down.

My most memorable part of that visit was seeing the 17 coat uniforms for the workers there with their names on them Derek and mark and Salvador, just hanging on a coat rack, waiting for them to come back. The one worker that was left behind to clean up the equipment and maintain it just literally got a tear in his eye when he showed me those coats. Those are workers that have to go to other towns now to find a job, and then it’s devastating for the town where the plant is. 

I’m a big believer in biofuels. I think we should be investing in the farmers and the workers in the Midwest, instead of the oil cartels of the Mideast. I think we need a balance to our fuel supply and it’s a cleaner fuel. And all of these cases are made, and their facts. He’s not a big fan of facts, President Trump. I am. 

As president, I’m going to make this much more transparent. I’m going to reverse, a lot of these waivers. And I’ll look at each one on its merits. What’s been going on is not good for Iowa.

After Tuesday’s debate your favorability increased. The next 24 hours you raised $1.1 million. How do you plan to maintain that momentum to compete against candidates like Buttegieg who have a strong fundraising foothold in Iowa?

I’m doing it right now on this bus going all over Iowa. And I think it’s really important to not only do major debates and things like that, but you really got to reach out to Iowans and meet them where they are. And that’s what I’ve been doing, and we’ve been having tremendous crowds and a lot of people signing up to caucus with us.

And then the endorsements, I have more endorsements of electives and former electives than any of the candidates. That’s not a one-day strategy. That’s a long haul strategy.

When people know these leaders like Liz Mattis, who endorsed me, as well as people like Andy McKean, who had been a Republican legislator his whole life and then changed to a Democrat because in his words, ‘you have to show conscience sometime.’

I always tell people in Minnesota, they know me. And then just making your case and the debate allowed me to really make the case about why I am the candidate from the heartland who doesn’t see it as a flyover but lives here.

I’m someone that wins. I win in rural areas, I win in suburban areas, unlike anyone else on that stage. I’ve shown an ability to bring people with me, independents, moderate Republicans, as well as the fired up Democratic base.

About 39,000 Iowans utilize the Affordable Care Act, and this is largely because those who do not receive federal subsidies are priced out of the market. I know you talked about this during the debate, but Iowans are wondering what specific changes would you make to the Affordable Care Act to make it more accessible for Iowans.

I think we have to build on it and expand on it instead of trashing it because there’s some really important protections in there so you don’t get kicked off your insurance for pre-existing conditions. 

What I would do is something called the public option. It’s a non-profit choice that people could pick which could be Medicaid or Medicare. We could do either depending on which works the best. And then you use your subsidies and you buy into it, and they will be much less expensive than private insurance, and the virtue for everyone else it’s on private insurance and I think people should be able to keep their insurance companies, the virtue of all of that is that that will help bring the prices down there too because there’s going to be more competition. 

Another thing that would really help Iowa is cost sharing and just making it easier for people to afford insurance, and that would be part of my plan. And then finally taking on pharmaceutical prices. I would bring in less expensive drugs from other safe countries like Canada. That’s something that’s also been prohibited. In many cases like EpiPens or insulin, a lot of the problem for simple drugs has been that there’s a near monopoly or there’s only a few options, and then they’ve been jacking up the prices. 

A lot of this is creating more competition and letting the pharma companies know no you can’t do this. Getting caps on what the prices can be for everyday drugs. 

You have the most endorsements from current and former state legislators, out of everyone else in the Democratic field, including a former republican that switched over to the Democratic Party earlier this year. How are you hoping that that translates to voters in Iowa especially moderate Republicans and people that are still undecided?

Andy McKean is such an interesting story because he was a lifelong Republican. He went out in the private sector for a while after being in the legislature, then they recruited him to come back. He ran as a Republican, he got in there and he said, ‘wait, I don’t want to privatize Medicaid. I don’t like some of this.’ And he kept telling them that, and eventually he decided that he was just going to change parties.

For him to endorse me when he’s someone that is respected for making that courageous decision where he decided that he was going to put his country first, that’s a big deal. 

Liz Mathis, who’s a leader in the legislature and is someone I really respect, I was so pleased to get her endorsement, as well as Ruth Ann Gaines and so many other people across our state.


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