2 More Democrats, Warren And Klobuchar, Enter Presidential Field

Feb 11, 2019
Originally published on February 11, 2019 11:39 pm
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The sheer number of Democratic presidential candidates has shifted the national conversation. For years now, President Trump has had an enormous political advantage. He's been able to make virtually every news story all about him. Any president has the power to seize attention, and he has constantly used it. But the Democratic challengers have filled the Internet and TV screens with different faces and different messages. NPR political correspondent Asma Khalid is following the latest presidential announcements. Hi there, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota announced over the weekend, and I guess you can say she began with a quite memorable image.

KHALID: (Laughter) She did. She was outside on this snowy cold Sunday. And, Steve, part of why, I think, she did this was it was really a symbolic backdrop. You know, she talked about geography. She talked about where she's from in her announcement speech. And so she wanted to be beside the Mississippi River. She pointed out that it runs really smack dab through the middle of the country, through the heartland. And she talked a lot about, you know, where she comes from, what her roots are, that she has these working-class roots. She talked about her grandpa who worked as an iron ore miner. And what I thought was really interesting in her announcement speech is that she talked about where she's from and what sort of credibility that Midwestern credibility gives her, but she also casted herself as this really pragmatic problem solver - someone who's focused on results. We have a clip of her here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMY KLOBUCHAR: We are tired of the shutdowns and the showdowns, of the gridlock and the grandstanding.

(APPLAUSE)

KLOBUCHAR: Today, on this snowy day on this island, we say enough is enough.

(APPLAUSE)

INSKEEP: And she's there with the snow in her hair...

KHALID: Yeah (laughter).

INSKEEP: ...The snow on her coat. OK. So she says she's pragmatic, but hasn't she faced criticism about how it is that she gets things done?

KHALID: Yeah. So, Steve, she has been - in recent days, there have been a couple of different stories that have talked about how she's treated her staff with a couple of examples highlighting, you know, throwing out a binder out the window, say, of a staff member and whatnot. And we should say a lot of these stories don't have individual quotes from named sources. Nonetheless, she was asked about this. And according to reports, she did not deny any of the specific allegations. In fact, she admitted that, you know, she can be tough. And she said, I have high expectations for myself; I have high expectations for the people that work for me, and I have high expectations for this country.

INSKEEP: Certainly a sign - maybe another sign of a different political world, isn't it, Asma? If you read history, you find all kinds of politicians who were unbelievably abusive to their staffs. But now this is something that people are going to talk about apparently.

KHALID: Yeah. I mean, Steve, I think what's so interesting right now about the political climate in general is that we are dealing culturally with a lot of things that candidates may not have dealt with before, whether that deals with, you know, how they treat their staff, whether that is, you know, allegations of sexual assault - obviously a much more sort of severe situation nonetheless - but how they deal with race. These are all cultural things that, I think, candidates a decade - let's say two, three decades ago wouldn't necessarily have dealt with.

INSKEEP: But Klobuchar is in, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts also says she's in the race. Let's listen to some of her announcement.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELIZABETH WARREN: We can't afford just to tinker around the edges - a tax credit here; a regulation there. Our fight is for big structural change.

(APPLAUSE)

INSKEEP: And she is making this argument that the economy has been tilted in favor of certain players, and she wants to tilt it back. And challenging President Trump - how's the president, though, trying to regain that narrative that he's somewhat lost control of here?

KHALID: Yeah. So, Steve, I think part of what we're seeing with President Trump is that he - specifically, I would say, with Warren, but he loves to taunt some of these Democrats on social media. So he sent out a tweet mocking her, and it was seen by some to refer to the Trail of Tears. As you know, that was the forced relocation of native Americans in the mid-19th century, a policy that led many people to die. She called it racist, and she suggested that Trump might not be around in 2020. He might be in prison, but he's not the only problem that Democrats will have.

INSKEEP: Wow. OK, NPR's Asma Khalid. Thanks.

KHALID: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.