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Klobuchar Says She's Seen A Surge In People Turning Out For Her In Iowa

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We are live in Des Moines, Iowa, where officially the 2020 presidential campaign kicks off today as the caucuses take place, as they do every four years. On the Democratic side, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is in the race. So far, she has struggled to break into the top tier of candidates, according to many polls. And she joins us now on the line from Washington, D.C., where she has returned to take part in the closing arguments of the Senate impeachment trial. Senator, thank you for taking a few minutes for us.

AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, thanks, David. Thanks, Rachel. But the poll yesterday was literally just a few points behind some of the other candidates that have been talked about a lot, and I was in third place in two polls last week.

GREENE: Well, I guess I've been...

KLOBUCHAR: So we are on a surge. We are on a surge in our campaign.

GREENE: You're on a surge.

KLOBUCHAR: We are, actually. We are.

GREENE: Well, I guess I was looking at the FiveThirtyEight website that, you know, which aggregates different polls and had you run 10%, well behind people like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. But what convinces you that you're surging?

KLOBUCHAR: The kind of support I've gotten out there. All of the people that have turned out at all of our events. The fact that we have the endorsement of the Quad-City Times, the Iowa City newspaper. Every paper in New Hampshire that's endorsed so far. And we have more endorsements of legislators in Iowa than any other candidate. They're the ones that are going to be in the rooms where it happens on caucus night tonight. And also, my message from the beginning - that we need to bring people together and, basically, unite our country and that this is a dignity check. It's a decency check on our election.

GREENE: Senator, if your narrative is true and that you're getting a swell of support in these final hours, it strikes me that you're not able to be in Iowa, that you're in Washington, D.C., for the continuation of the impeachment trial. Has that made it more difficult for you to capture additional support in these final hours that you might need to do well here?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I'm a mom; I can do two things at once. And I literally was there till late in the evening, got on a plane in Washington and going back to Iowa tonight. I have just juggled it.

And I believe that the people of Iowa understand that having someone that's actually in the arena, that isn't just about talking points but actually has the experience of passing over 100 bills as the lead Democrat, is someone that has taken on truth - my role in the Justice Kavanaugh hearings - and someone that is going to have the back of the people of this country. And I'm only one of two candidates remaining that's from the Midwest, the very area that we need to win.

GREENE: Well, I'm glad you mentioned where you're from. I mean, this is the Midwest, and that puts pressure on you to demonstrate that you can win in your own neighborhood, so to speak. You have been saying for some time that this really comes down to grassroots organizing. As you look back, I mean, even if you do feel like you're getting some last-minute support here, do you have any regrets? Do you feel like you did enough organizationally to really do well here?

KLOBUCHAR: I have no regrets. We have the most fantastic team that has stuck together, and we literally have gone out to areas that you're not in right now - all 99 counties of Iowa, all the rural areas - really built the kind of support that we need not just to do well in a primary or caucus but to actually win in the general election, to bring back those voters that voted for Barack Obama and then went and turned and voted for Donald Trump. That's how I've won every race, and I'm the only one with the receipts, David, that's shown that I can bring in a big way - lead a ticket and bring in rural and suburban voters.

GREENE: Senator Klobuchar, thanks so much, as always.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. Great to be on.

GREENE: And safe travels.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

GREENE: Safe travels back to Iowa. That is Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar joining us this morning as we broadcast from Smokey Row coffeehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.