Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, spoke for 23 minutes in frigid 14 degree temperature (feeling like 4 degrees), in a thick snowfall, without hat or gloves, in front of hundreds of supporters on Boom Island who had stood for hours to hear her declare her candidacy for President. Already, with an unprecedented number of women running for Election 2020, the tone is different, as Klobuchar raised issues of child care, universal health care, lower prescription drug prices, gun violence prevention, climate action, criminal justice reform, fair wages and taxes, the need for diplomacy and international alliances as key.
Here are highlights from her speech declaring her run for President:
Prosperity shared leads to better lives for all. [America is] a beacon for democracy, one in which every one matters. We start in this place…
[Recalling when the deteriorating I 35W Bridge over the Mississippi collapsed, killing 13 and injuring 145, and the first responders dove in to try to save them, a wake-up call to the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure.] A bridge shouldn’t fall down in America..Suddenly the eyes of a nation are on our state. The nation saw in visceral way that everyone matters. Later, I worked across the aisle and rebuilt that I 35 bridge- that’s community shared, a story or ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
That sense of community is fracturing across the nation, worn down by the petty and vicious nature of our politics. We are tired of shutdowns, showdowns, gridlock and grandstanding. Today, in this snowy day, on this island, we say enough is enough
Our nation must be governed not from chaos, but opportunity, not by wallowing over what’s wrong, but marching inexorably to what’s right.
It starts with all of us.
My family story – both on my Mom and Dad’s side, arrived in this country with nothing but a suitcase. They made a home here.
Like so many immigrants they wanted a better life for their family. My grandfather worked 1500 ft below ground mining. My Dad – now age 90 – got a two-year degree, then finished at University of Minnesota and became a journalist. As a young AP reporter, he called the 1960 race for JFK, interviewed everyone from Reagan to Ginger Rogers. Freedom of the press wasn’t some abstract idea to my dad; he embraced it, lived it.
My Mom, a proud union member, taught 2nd grade in the suburbs until she was 70 years old, her students still come up and say she was their favorite.
On this island in the middle of mighty Mississippi, in nation’s heartland, at a time when we must heal the heart of democracy and renew our commitment to common good, I stand before you, as granddaughter of iron ore miner, a daughter of newspaper man, the first woman elected to US Senate from the state of Minnesota, to announce my candidacy for president of the United States.
I am running for this job for everyone who wants their work recognized and rewarded, for every parent who wants a better world for their kids, for every student who wants a good education, for every senior who wants affordable prescription drug, for every worker, farmer, dreamer, builder, for every American, I am running for you.
And I promise you this, as your president, I will look you in the eye, tell you what I think, focus on getting things done, that’s what I have done my whole life. And no matter what, I will lead from the heart.
Let me blunt.
For too long leaders in Washington have sat on sidelines while others tried to figure out about changing economy, impact on our lives, disruptive nature of new technology, income inequality, political and geographic divides, changing climate, tumult in the world.
Stop seeing these as obstacles on our path – let’s see obstacles as our path.
This is what I mean.
There are insidious forces every day trying to make it hard to vote, drown out voices with big money – time to organize, galvanize, take back our democracy. It’s time America.
It’s time to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and get dark money out of our politics.
It’s time to stop discriminatory action by restoring the Voting Rights Act. Time to pass my bill to automatically every young person to vote when they turn 18.
The obstacle they are throwing at us with big money, obstacles to voting, are obstacles but also our path – as Paul Wellstone would tell us, it’s how we organize.
Here’s another: Climate change. The people are on our side – because like you and I, they believe in science.
That’s why in the first 100 days of my administration I will reinstate the Clean Power rules and the gas mileage standards and put forth sweeping legislation to invest in green jobs and infrastructure.
And on Day 1 we will rejoin the International Climate Agreement.
The obstacles, they are our path.
Another challenge: Way too many politicians have their head stuck in the sand when it comes to the digital revolution. It’s not coming, it’s here. If you don’t know the difference between a hack and slack, it’s time to pull off the digital highway.
What would I do? Put some digital rules of the road into law when it comes to people’s privacy.
For too long big tech companies have been telling you, ‘Don’t worry, we have your back’ while your identities are being stolen, your data being mined. Our laws have to be as sophisticated as those who are breaking them.
I would guarantee net neutrality for all; connect the digital divide by 2022 – that means you, Rural America. If they can do it in Iceland we can do it here.
Train our workers today for the jobs of tomorrow, strengthen economy for what’s ahead– strengthening certifications, 2 year degrees, make it easier to get them.
And comprehensive immigration reform. It is time America.
Close those tax loopholes designed by and for the wealthy and bring down our debt and make it easier for workers to afford child care, housing and education – that is what I mean by shared prosperity.
But we can’t get there if people can’t afford their health care – that means getting to universal health care, and bringing down the cost of prescription drugs.
Last week, my guest at the State of the Union, here with us today, Nicole Smith Colt. Her 26 year old son Alec, aged off his parents’ insurance just 3 days short of payday. A diabetic, he couldn’t afford insulin, a simple drug that’s been around for nearly a century. He tried rationing but it didn’t work, and he died. This disgrace should never happen in the United States of America today.
The obstacle to change? Big Pharma. Well, they don’t own me and they don’t own Nicole.
We are teaming up to pass meaningful legislation, to bring in cheaper drugs from other countries, stop keeping generics off market – harness the negotiating power of 43 million seniors, lift the ban on negotiating cheaper prices under Medicare.
I’ve always believed in doing my job without fear or favor – that’s what I do as a senator, what I did as a prosecutor – convicting the guilty, protecting the innocent.
It’s why I have and always will advocate for criminal justice reform.
And, in a state where we all value hunting and fishing and the great outdoors, I am not afraid to join the vast majority of Americans, including many gun owners to stand up to gun lobby and put universal background checks and commonsense gun legislation into law. It is time America.
Even if we isolate from the rest of world, the rest of world won’t let you – international problems come banging at the door just as opportunities come knocking.
We must stand consistently with our allies, be clear in our purpose, respect our front line troops, diplomats and intelligence officers, who are there every day risking their lives for us. They deserve better than foreign policy by tweet/
And one last obstacle we must overcome: To move forward together, stop the fear-mongering and stop the hate. We may come from different places, pray in different ways, look different, love differently but we all live in the same country of shared dreams.
In Minnesota, we have the biggest Somali population in the country and we are proud of that community. A few years ago, at the height of angry rhetoric, a Somali family of 4 went to dinner. A guy passing by said, ‘You four go home where you came from.’ The little girl said, ‘Mom, I don’t want to go home. You said we could eat out for dinner out tonight.’ You think of the innocent words of that little girl – she only knows one home, our state, one home, the United States.
Walt Whitman, the great American poet, said: I hear America singing the very carols I hear.” For Whitman, those were the songs of the mechanics, carpenters, masons, shoemakers, and those carols are still being sung today – that is also the song of our sisters and brothers, a chorus of different races, creeds, way of life.
E plurbus unum – out of many is one.
It is more than a motto, America – it is the North Star of our democracy. It is the North Star of our effort.
I am asking you to join this campaign – it is a homegrown one.
I don’t have a political machine, I don’t come from money, but what I do have is this: I have grit.
I have family, I have friends, I have neighbors and have all of you who are willing to come out in the middle of winter, who took the time to watch today from home, willing to stand up and say people matter.
I am asking you not to look down, not to look away. I am asking you to look up, at each other, the future before us, let us rise to the occasion and meet the challenges of our day – cross the river of our divides and walk across a sturdy bridge to higher ground.
As one faith leader reminded me: to pursue the good we must believe that good will prevail.
I do believe it, and so do you.
Let’s join together as one nation, one nation, indivisible, under God and pursue the good.
Thank you and God bless America.