U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke to a room full of area voters during a Dallas County Town Hall at the Hotel Pattee on Sunday, Jan. 12 in Perry.
Klobuchar is the latest presidential candidate to campaign in Dallas County within the last month. She follows visits from Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Cory Booker and Andrew Yang. Bernie Sanders’ Jan. 10 event was cancelled due to weather. Booker has since suspended his campaign.
While Klobuchar said economics will play a big role in the upcoming election, she pointed to other areas voters are looking at.
“This is an economic check, and I think that’s what you’re going to hear us debate. It’s what you heard through many debates. But it is more than that,” she said on Jan. 12 in Perry. “For so many people out there, who maybe don’t agree with us on every single policy, it is for them a decency check. It is a patriotism check. It is a values check.”
She encourages area voters to consider those checks as the election progresses.
Klobuchar added that she wants to get all of the items done that the candidates are talking about on the debate stage, including reducing healthcare premiums, taking on the pharmaceutical industry, investing in education and bringing “sanity back to our foreign policy.”
“I want to do these things, but if we just eke by a victory, it won’t be enough. We have to win big,” she said of the presidential race.
Though she said the presidential race isn’t the only one that’s important. Klobuchar said it’s equally important to win back Senate seats, in Iowa and across the country
One way to win the presidential race, Klobuchar said, is to talk about Donald Trump and “describe some of the things he’s done as president as a way that brings people back.” Talking about the promises Trump has made and not kept to workers and others are a start, Klobuchar said.
The second thing that needs to happen, she added, is to “have an optimistic, economic agenda for the people of this country.”
“Great leaders are supposed to rise to the challenges of our times. And you know what these challenges are because you deal with them in your everyday life,” Klobuchar said.
One of those challenges is healthcare. Klobuchar said she would like to see premiums go down to help make healthcare more affordable. She added that while she knew the Affordable Care Act wasn’t perfect the day it passed, ‘I said it’s a beginning and not an end.’
“My answer on that one is to build on it with a non-profit public option, something that Barack Obama wanted to do from the very beginning, and then to really take on pharma in a big way. Something I’ve done since I got to the Senate,” Klobuchar said.
Another way she would improve it would be to deal with mental health and addiction.
“In Iowa right now, you only have 64 public mental health beds. You wonder why people get lined up in rural hospitals, because there is no where to take them and they’re not getting the help they need,” she said.
Another challenge of healthcare, that Klobuchar said no one is talking about, is long-term care.
“While they’re off re-regulating the Affordable Care Act, what we should be doing is dealing with long-term care,” she said. “That means shoring up social security, and there’s a very straight-forward way to do that, making sure Medicaid is strong, and then doing something about long-term care options, so people can stay in their homes as well as long-term care insurance.”
Klobuchar went on to talk about another challenge, workforce training, and “making sure that our education system, with a major investment in K-12, matches our economy.”
She added that some of the fastest rising jobs right now are home healthcare workers and healthcare workers. Other fast growing jobs include electricians and other one to two year degree jobs.
Klobuchar wants to see incentives put in place for one to year degree programs. She would also like to see the Pell grants doubled as four year degree jobs will also be needed.
She briefly touched on the need for immigration reform, the urban-rural divide and climate change before taking questions.
“Climate change, it’s something that isn’t happening 100 years from now, it’s happening right now. As your president, on day one, I would get us back into the international climate change agreement,” Klobuchar said.
She wrapped up her speech where she started, by talking about winning big in the presidential election.
“To win big we have to have a candidate at the top of the ticket that can bring people with her. That is what we need to do,” she said.
Klobuchar pointed to her own elections and winning in red districts as proof that she has what it takes to win big.
“I have done not by selling out on our values, but by bringing people with me and getting things done,” she said. “I have done it because I know how to stand my ground and also find common ground. That is going to matter to voters and that is going to matter in a general election.”