On Sunday, Democrat Amy Klobuchar joined the 2020 White House race, adding a pragmatic voice from the heartland state of Minnesota to an ever-growing field of contenders hoping to unseat US President Donald Trump. In a speech that was almost a point-by-point rejection of the president's policies and the country's toxic divides, she told supporters, "We are tired of the shutdowns and the showdowns, of the gridlock and the grandstanding."
She said "Enough is enough. Our nation must be governed not from chaos but from opportunity,". Klobuchar, the 58-year-old granddaughter of an iron miner, made the announcement before a heavily bundled-up crowd under grey and snowy skies in a park along the Mississippi River, as volunteers passed out hand warmers.
In a year when many Democrats say their top priority in a candidate is an ability to defeat Trump, Klobuchar's words seemed -- time after time, issue by issue -- to target the president. She said that if elected she would return to the international climate treaty on "Day One." She promised more stringent gun laws and set a target of universal health care while calling for America to support its troops, diplomats and intelligence officers. She said "They deserve better than foreign policy by tweet,". In typical fashion, Trump swiftly reacted to Klobuchar's announcement on Twitter.
"Bad timing. By the end of her speech, she looked like a Snowman(woman)!" Klobuchar has been visibly building a national profile. Crucially, she has proven popular even in the more Republican-friendly rural parts of her state. She won re-election in November by a resounding 24-point margin, carrying 1,200 precincts won by Trump in 2016.
However, a former prosecutor with an unpretentious demeanour, she referred again and again in her speech to her roots in a region that prides itself on an ethic of honesty and hard work. But at odds with that image, her own work ethic has emerged as a focus of criticism in recent days.
Several former aides have been quoted saying she is difficult to work for, with bouts of "explosive rage" leading to exceptionally high staff turnover. Her defenders say she is simply someone who demands excellence, and that the allegations against her would not be made against a man.