CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota on Sunday said she’s been punching “way above my weight,” trying to embrace the role of an underdog who is poised for a surprise finish in Monday’s caucuses while being outgunned financially by some of her 2020 Democratic presidential rivals.
“I have been punching way above my weight,” Ms. Klobuchar said. “There were some pundits that predicted when I started that speech in the middle of the Mississippi River in a blizzard that I would never make it to the end of the speech.”
“Now here I am, nearly a year later” as “one of the top five candidates in this race,” she said. “And I’ve done it with a lot less money than a lot of my opponents and a lot less name identification.”
Ms. Klobuchar was urging supporters gathered here at the Longbranch Restaurant & Event Center to get to caucus sites in Iowa on Monday to give her campaign a jolt heading into New Hampshire and other nominating contests.
She joked that nobody was going to see one of her ads running during the Super Bowl later on Sunday, but said she just closed out the best fundraising month of her campaign.
Ms. Klobuchar said her “progressive and practical” message can appeal to a broad swath of voters and help pull down-ballot Democrats across the finish line in November.
She said Democrats don’t want to “eke” out a victory at 4 a.m., but rather win resoundingly enough to help flip key U.S. Senate seats in states like Arizona.
Ms. Klobuchar said if they win big, they’ll “send Mitch McConnell packing,” which prompted extended applause and cheers from the crowd.
There was at least one “Amy Klobuchar will beat Donald Trump” shirt in the crowd.
Ms. Klobuchar is looking to shock the political world with a surprise finish in Monday’s caucuses.
She was in fifth place at 5% support in a CBS poll released on Sunday. That was well back of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, who were tied for first at 25% apiece.
Candidates have to hit a minimum threshold of 15% support in most precincts after the first “alignment,” or their supporters are released to choose another candidate.
That puts additional pressure on Ms. Klobuchar’s campaign to make sure she’s viable enough across the state to have a shot at winning delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
Dale Larson, a 70-year-old retiree from North Liberty, said he hasn’t yet committed to caucusing for a specific candidate.
“Can she do better than fifth? I mean, she’s polling fifth, right?” he said. “I don’t know if that’ll be enough. It’s right next to her home state, so if you don’t do really well here, then you’ve got New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina – it’s hard to say.”
“But I do think she has had a good reception here,” he said. “She may do better than the polls would have shown so far.”
Mr. Larson made a cringey “I’m not sure” face when asked about Mr. Biden.
“I don’t know – respect him. Obviously he had a great run with Obama,” he said. “You just haven’t seen him in the debates be inspiring enough or articulate enough.”
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