Give credit to Sen. Amy Klobuchar. She didn’t insult our intelligence by claiming she’s only interested in being a good U.S. senator, and running for president has barely crossed her mind.
That’s the playbook for most sitting politicians running for higher office in recent years, last used here by then Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who spent months publicly denying any interest in a run for president in 2012 after announcing he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2010, building a campaign for the Iowa caucuses, and benefiting from non-stop “are you running?” stories from the local scribes.
After checking off all the usual steps in the cat-and-mouse game, claiming a focus only on being governor in his last year in office, Pawlenty eventually made it official before getting smoked in the Iowa straw poll. He couldn’t even make it to the caucuses. The will-he-or-won’t-he publicity was worthless.
Months later, when his name came up in speculation for Mitt Romney’s running mate, Pawlenty claimed to be focused on yard work, not politics.
Klobuchar is as astute a politician as Minnesota has ever produced. While there was some speculation she’d be a candidate on a ticket with Hillary Clinton in 2016, she was, instead, playing the long game.
“Note that this book is called ‘The Senator Next Door,’” she said when asked about her ambitions in 2015 , referring to her book, a requirement of running for president. “And I like my job now.”
The next presidential election wasn’t her aim. 2020 was.
But now she’s running, armed with the job security of a brand new six-year lease on a U.S Senate seat, a higher profile courtesy of her performance in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and all the political capital she’s built up in the Party as a good soldier.
“Well, people are talking to me about this, I think, in part because I’ve worked really hard to go not just where it’s comfortable but where it’s uncomfortable, and did well in a number of those places that Donald Trump won,” Klobuchar said on a national Sunday TV talk show.
That’s a somewhat new twist on the game, suggesting that other people are pushing the candidate.
Another candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, said essentially the same thing in a Sunday interview.
“There’s people in New Jersey who are talking to me about it, across the country that are talking to me about it, so I will consider that,” he said.
Same with Ohio Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who said on ABC’s “This Week” that he’s been overwhelmed by the people pushing him.
“We’re seriously talking about it with family and friends and political allies who have come to me about this,” he said.
Goodness, can’t these senators get a moment’s peace from their friends and aspirations?
Still, as Klobuchar indicated, acknowledging aspirations isn’t a lead-weighted trial balloon, especially since the long-range game plan has given her the luxury of the expectation.
“Once, when I first was considering running for the Senate, (I) told someone that on the radio — and that was how my husband found out about it, and since he is watching today I’m not going to repeat that again,” she said on This Week.
It’s cool. He probably already knows, too.