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Senator Amy Klobuchar announces 2020 Presidential bid. TRANSCRIPT: 2/11/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Amy Klobuchar

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks, my friend.  Much appreciated it.


MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Big show for you tonight. 

We`ve seen a lot of people announce this year that they are running for president.  We have not seen anybody else do it like this -- in the middle of a blizzard, with no hat on. 

Senator Amy Klobuchar of the great state of Minnesota has just announced her campaign for president of the United States.  I have it on good authority she has since thawed out and she will be my guest here live in studio in just a moment. 

In terms of news that we are keeping an eye on tonight, you should know that the president`s long time personal lawyer Michael Cohen today postponed the testimony that he was due to give tomorrow to the Senate Intelligence Committee.  You might remember that Michael Cohen was interviewed already by the Senate Intelligence Committee back in 2017 -- 2017, October 2017.  That has since become a famous bit of testimony because he has since pled guilty to lying during that sworn testimony about the president`s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the campaign. 

In light of that guilty plea by Michael Cohen where he admitted lying to Congress, the Senate intelligence committee asked him to come back and testify again, although this time they said it would not be voluntary.  They sent him a subpoena last month for him to testify tomorrow.  We have thought that was on track but now today, we learned that testimony before Senate intelligence will be rescheduled.  His testimony that was due last week to the House Intelligence Committee, that was also rescheduled. 

Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said at the time that Cohen`s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee had to be delayed, quote, in the interests of the investigation.  We don`t really know what that means.  We don`t know why Michael Cohen`s congressional testimony both voluntary and subpoenaed, why that keeps getting put off. 

But regardless of what these committees are able to work out with him, they can only put it off for so long.  Michael Cohen is scheduled to report to federal prison in three and a half weeks.  So if they are eventually going to hear from him before he turns up to get his orange jumpsuit, there`s not much time to do it. 

Still, the committee seemed fairly comfortable with the fact that he keeps delaying.  Nobody is expressing outrage or concern or worry or beating their chest about this at all.  They all seem to think they`re going to get him but they`re not getting him yet.  We`re following that today, still without clarity on what it really means.  Presumably, we`ll know in the long run. 

Today, we`ve also been following the big news out of Colorado.  This was the Colorado state capitol building today.  Thousands of Denver schoolteachers marching to the state capital to launch their strike against the Denver school district.  This is the first time Denver teachers have gone on strike in decades. 

It was below freezing in Colorado Today, but more than half of Denver`s 4,000 plus school teachers were in the streets.  And that demonstrations instead of their classrooms, the teachers are asking not just for higher pay but interestingly, they are asking for more stable and predictable pay.  Right now, Denver teachers are paid a low base salary and then they get an end of the year bonus, but the end of the year bonus can swing up and down quite widely which makes for a very unpredictable total amount of compensation from year to year, which makes it hard to live, hard to plan. 

Denver schools were still open today on the first day of the strike but a lot of students walked out of class today, too and joined their teachers on the picket lines.  Teachers say they want this to resolve fast, but right now, it`s not totally clear how that will happen.  Tomorrow will start day two of that big strike. 

I also want to tell you about something that just broke within the last half an hour.  For the past week, Congress has been trying to -- a conference committee in Congress has been trying to work out a deal to avert another government shutdown.  The deadline to come up with a bill to avert a shutdown which would have to be passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by the president, that deadline is this Friday or another shutdown starts. 

Well, just tonight, just within the last 25 minutes, that conference committee, that group of bicameral, bipartisan legislators who have been trying to find some deal to avert the shutdown, they have just announced they`ve got a deal.  They say they have reached, a quote, agreement in principle about funding the government. 

Now, we have no idea what that agreement is.  We have no details about their supposed deal.  The lawmakers do say it includes some sort of funding for some sort of border security.  We don`t know if that includes any money for the president`s beloved wall idea.  But again, they do say they have a deal.  We will keep you posted as we learn more. 

What remains to be seen, of course, is even if these conference committee members do have a deal they can all agree on, if it can pass the House and pass the Senate, of course, it would still have to be signed by the president in order to avert the government being shutdown.  We`ve been here before.  The Senate and the House already agreed on noncontroversial legislation to fund the government in an ongoing way.  The president refused to sign it.  That led to the longest ever government shutdown in history, which we are just out of. 

So, yes, there`s an announcement tonight there`s a deal, but there`s a gigantic grain of salt riding that announcement, without a saddle.  So we will let you know again more about that when we learn more. 

We`re also, of course, watching what`s happening tonight in El Paso.  Right now as we speak president Trump is starting a campaign-style rally in El Paso, Texas.  El Paso is the red dot on that map.  El Paso sits right along the border between the United States and Mexico. 

At his State of the Union Address last week, you might remember the president using El Paso as sort of a case study for why he wants his wall so much.  He said El Paso is terrible, violent, dangerous place until a portion of fencing went up on the U.S. border at El Paso, and he described that bit of fencing as essentially solving all of El Paso`s problems. 

Factually, that`s total horse hockey.  El Paso does have a very low crime rate, but that was the case long before that little bit of fencing was put up.  So, unless, it`s a time traveling bit of fencing, that whole argument never made much sense, and El Paso knows it.  Nevertheless, the president is due to appear in El Paso at any moment, making the case for building his magic wall on the border to keep immigrants out. 

And he, of course, will be making that pitch against the backdrop of what is another looming government shutdown over this very issue at the end of this week if that deal does not produce legislation that both houses agree to and that he consents to sign. 

You should also note tonight that El Paso is little bit of a weird spot for the president to be holding this campaign rally tonight.  I mean, it`s weird because of the things he`s been saying about El Paso that fundamentally is not true.  But it`s also just weird he`s there.  I mean, he does like holding campaign rallies even when it`s not election season, but he always holds them in deep red places, right, very Republican- friendly places. 

That is not El Paso.  In the 2016 election, Donald Trump lost El Paso by 43 points.  Forty-three-point win for Hillary Clinton in El Paso County.  To put in perspective just how bad of a loss that is, Donald Trump lost El Paso County by a bigger margin than he lost blue blue state California. 

So, El Paso was a little bit of a weird place for the president to rally his base around the idea of a border wall.  El Paso is not a weird place for what`s going to go on right across the street from the president`s rally tonight, though.  The president`s rally is, I`ll show you right here, see that red dot?  El Paso County Coliseum, that`s the location for the president`s rally tonight. 

Now, show you everything here.  Other red dot right across the parking lot there, that`s the Acosta Sports Center in El Paso.  See how close those two buildings are?  They`re 0.2 miles away from each other, generously. 

But that Acosta Sports Center, that place is spitting distance from the president`s rally tonight, that is the site tonight of a counter rally against the president.  Tonight, thousands of people marched through the streets of El Paso to protest against the president`s visit and his proposed border wall and what he`s been saying about El Paso.  They`re calling it the March for Truth, saying they`re fighting back against what the president has been saying about El Paso and about immigrants and how he`s been using both as political footballs. 

This march tonight starting about a mile away from the sports center that`s across the parking lot from the president`s rally.  On the way there, they chanted "El Paso united will never be divided". 

And it is at the end of that march where the counter programming really starts.  Tonight, former Texas Congressman Beto O`Rourke is headlining that rally across the street from the president.  Beto O`Rourke, of course, served in the U.S. Congress for six years.  He became nationally known when he came close to picking off incumbent senator Ted Cruz in the race last year. 

Beto O`Rourke has not said yet if he too is going to run for president this next year.  But there`s at least some expectation that he might.  Beto O`Rourke was born and raised in El Paso and slated to start speaking tonight at this rally across the parking lot from Trump`s rally basically at the moment the president was scheduled to take. 

Can we dip into this for a second? 

BETO O`ROURKE (D-TX), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN:  -- because that was the only place she was allowed to go to high school in El Paso, Texas, had the audacity to try to enroll at Texas Western College and was denied entry solely because of the color of her skin.  She did not allow that injustice to deter her or to dampen her spirits enlisting the services of a little known attorney named Thurgood Marshall.  They took that case all the way to the federal courtroom of R.E. Thomason, another great El Pasoan, and together, making their stand for this community.  They integrated higher education for every single American in the state of Texas. 

MADDOW:  Beto O`Rourke speaking tonight in El Paso, Texas.  As I mentioned he is very close.  He is across the parking lot from where the president is holding essentially an anti-immigrant campaign rally.  With these rallies happening so close together, we`re, of course, keeping an eye on these speeches tonight.  We`ll turn this around as we are getting remarks from the president and Beto O`Rourke.  We`ll let you know how this develops tonight, particularly we`ll be watching as these events may let out basically around the same time, which should be interesting given all these folks being in very close proximity. 

And this all comes at a time when more and more Democrats are jumping into the 2020 race to run against President Trump next year.  And let me say why it`s important that Senator Amy Klobuchar has decided to jump in.  As I mentioned, she`s going to be my guest her for "The Interview".  This will be first cable interview, her first extended interview since she announced this weekend she is running for president. 

The first time Senator Klobuchar ever ran for office was in 1998.  She had no political experience at all.  She had spent an internship one summer in Washington, but that was it in terms of her political background.  Her dad was a newspaper columnist.  Her mom was a second grade teacher.  Both parents were from immigrant families.  Her grandfather had been an iron ore miner in Minnesota.

But in 1998, she decided she was going to run for office for the first time.  She decided she was going to run for D.A., the top prosecutor job in Hennepin County in Minnesota, which was the Twin Cities.  It was a Republican-leaning year.  It was also sort of a random year for Minnesota.  Minnesota voters that year also elected a professional wrestler named Jessie Ventura to be their governor that same night she was on the ballot to become D.A. 

But despite the sort of headwinds and crosswinds there, Amy Klobuchar did pull off that D.A. race.  She was elected to that powerful prosecutor position, the first time she`d ever run for office.  She was elected by less than 1 percent of the vote.  She became Hennepin County prosecutor, D.A. 

Four years later, she ran for re-election for that same position.  No one even tried to run against her.  She ran unopposed.  She spent eight years as D.A.  Then she decided she was going to run for U.S. Senate. 

No woman had ever been elected to the United States Senate from Minnesota before.  She did it and made it look easy.  She won by 20 points.  Six years later, in 2012, she ran for reelection.  She won by more than 30 points. 

And then this past year, 2018, Republicans initially made some noise about picking off her seat since after all Hillary Clinton had barely eked out a win over Trump in Minnesota in 2016, maybe they could take Amy Klobuchar`s seat from her in Minnesota.  Just two years later, they started to make noise about that, but try it.  Klobuchar ended up winning by 24 points.  She won so comfortably, she was able to spend a good chunk of the election season this past year traveling the country, campaigning for other Democrats who needed more help that she did, while she romped to another huge win in her state.

Amy Klobuchar has been politically invincible.  Ever since that first race she ever ran in.  And now as of this weekend, she`s running for president.  And her national name recognition is low to start out with, at least for now. 

But her political effectiveness is high.  Both electorally and in terms of her getting stuff done, the numbers of bills she`s gotten passed both under Republican and Democratic presidents, the number of practical accomplishments she`s brought home as a U.S. senator.  I also think there`s a little bit of an X factor when it comes to Amy Klobuchar, which is that she`s funny. 

And that might matter.  I mean, she`s funny enough that it seemed like a heaven sent practical joke when God decided to dump this much snow on her outdoors no umbrella, no cover, no hat presidential campaign kick off speech this weekend in Minnesota. 



SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Hello, everyone.  Welcome America to Boom Island.  Where are we? 

AUDIENCE:  Boom Island. 

KLOBUCHAR:  Now, we don`t let a little snow stop us. 


KLOBUCHAR:  We don`t let a little cold stop us. 


KLOBUCHAR:  Like, are you guys even cold?  Tell the truth. 


MADDOW:  There was so much snow at her presidential campaign announcement people literally skied to her speech. 

People brought their kids to her speech but they brought them not only bundled up to an inch of their lives, they brought their kids on sleds.  The location for her speech was on Boom Island which is on the Mississippi Riverfront.  The site of her speech this weekend was specifically about a mile from a bridge over Interstate 35. 

Remember these pictures?  Bridge over Interstate 35 that collapsed catastrophically in 2007.  Amy Klobuchar had been a U.S. senator for only about six months when this bridge came crashing down.  It`s actually just a few blocks from where she and her family lived.  Thirteen people died from that bridge collapse, nearly 150 people injured.  You may remember those kids being rescued one by one from the school bus that was teetering over the side of the collapsed bridge. 

In her announcement this weekend, Amy Klobuchar paid tribute to the heroes who rescued people in that disaster, again about a mile from where she stood.  She drew a roar from the crowd when she talked about what it took to work across the aisle pragmatically, effectively when she`d been a senator for about five minutes.  But nevertheless she and other politicians working together were able to get that huge bridge rebuilt and back up and running in all of about a year. 

Constructing something that big and that important that fast takes a lot of political work.  The roar from the crowd when she talked about her effectiveness in doing that gives you a portrait of the kind of senator she`s been in Minnesota.  And people talk about being an elected official who your own constituents feel indispensable, that sorts of the reason why.  That`s the kind of reason why.  That`s why you put that at the heart of your presidential campaign announcement. 

So, she talked about that and she went ahead and jumped in with as is his her nature some ad-libbed jokes along the way. 


KLOBUCHAR:  We are tired of the shutdowns and the showdowns, of the gridlock and the grandstanding.  Today, on this snowy day on this island, we say enough is enough. 


Our nation -- our nation must be governed not through chaos but from opportunity.  Not by wallowing over what`s wrong but by marching inexorably toward what`s right.  And it has to start with all of us. 

My family`s story is like so many of yours.  On both my mom and my dad`s side, they arrived in this country with nothing but a suitcase.  But they made a home here.  It was cold -- OK, maybe not as cold as this. 

They didn`t know anyone, but like so many immigrants, they wanted a better life for their families.  My grandpa worked 1,500 under feet of the ground up north on the Iron Range.  He never graduated from high school.  He saved money in a coffee can in a basement to send my dad to college. 

My dad who`s here at age 90 got a two-year degree from Vermilion Junior College, and then finished up at the great University of Minnesota.  He became a journalist as a young -- thank you. 

I stand before you as a granddaughter of an iron ore miner, as the daughter of the teacher and a newspaper man, as the first woman elected to be United States Senate from the state of Minnesota, to announce my candidacy for president of the United States. 


I promise you this, as your president, I will look you in the eye.  I will tell you what I think.  I will focus on getting things done.  That`s what I`ve done my whole life, and no matter what I`ll lead from the heart. 



MADDOW:  At that point in the speech, the crowd starts to say, Amy, Amy, Amy.  She clearly has no idea what to do with it.  She basically sort of cuts them off and tells them to stop cheering.  This is not a politician who basked in the applause, although maybe it`s hard to bask in anything when it is snowing that hard. 

So, a few things about Senator Amy Klobuchar joining the race now.  First, I`m not going to lie.  I think it matters that she`s funny.  I think that is part of how she gets things done.  I think it`s part of how the country will get to know who she is. 

I am banking that people are going to like that in a candidate.  She`s not the slickest candidate in the world.  She`s the most professionally packaged candidate in the world, but funny sets her apart in lots of ways. 

I think it also matters alongside that that she does have a record of getting things done at home and in Washington.  On the other hand, it`s going to matter and it`s probably going to be expensive in terms of building up a base of donations on which you would run a national campaign.  It`s going to matter she isn`t nationally well-known not yet.  She doesn`t start with big name recognition. 

Also for what it`s worth, it seems like the man she would be running against, if she got to the general election, it seems like President Trump has no idea what to do with her.  This was the tweet he sent trying to mock her campaign announcement this weekend, criticizing her for how much it snowed. 

Quote: Amy Klobuchar announced that she`s running for president, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow, ice and freezing temperatures.  What`s a blizzard of temperatures?  What are you even talking about? 

The president concludes: By the end of her speech, she looked like a snowman/woman. 

This was her response.  Science is on my side, Donald Trump.  Looking forward to debating you about climate change and many other issues, and I wonder how your hair would fare in a blizzard. 

I mean, is that the right way to beat that guy?  I don`t know.  I don`t know.  He`s only run for office once and he won. 

I mean, in responding that way, did she make you think about his hair?  Perhaps more importantly, did she make him think about his hair?  I mean, he really can`t be out in the snow or the rain.  She can. 

I mean, does he get nervous people knowing that.  Does that feel like maybe that`s a little weakness?  Does it make him particularly nervous to have a woman pointing that out?  I don`t know. 

You may have also seen since it became clear that Senator Klobuchar is running, there`s been a flurry of stories about her being a tough boss, being extremely demanding with her staff and having the staff turnover to show for it.  We`ll talk with her about that in just a moment.  She`s also got a sort of odd problem or at least a complicated development in the fact that conservatives and Republicans, particularly those who have worked alongside her, seem to really like her.  Eek. 

Today, the very right wing "Wall Street Journal" editorial board praised her candidacy while laying out, as they put it, the case for Amy Klobuchar.  Quote: Unlike most 2020 contenders, Ms. Klobuchar hasn`t parroted lefty slogans.  Quote: She may be the Democrat best able to beat Mr. Trump. 

The conservative editorial board at "The Journal" is not alone on the right in praising the Minnesota senator today.  Today, headlined how much her Republican Senate colleagues are likely to gush about her when asked.  Quote: She`s a person of character and great ability said Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson.  Quote, she`s the whole package. 

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn says, quote, I hope I`m not condemning her nascent run for the presidency.  She`s too reasonable, he says.  Too likable, too nice. 

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins says, quote: Her questioning on the Judiciary Committee is excellent. 

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts says, quote: Of the folks that are running, she`s probably more responsible. 

I mean, it must be nice to hear that stuff because you`re a human being and you serve vaguely your coworkers in a sense.  But it must be weird to sort of plan around that kind of praise if you are running for the Democratic nomination for president in these deeply polarized times. 

But I will just say, as a person who has interviewed Senator Amy Klobuchar probably more than anybody else who -- anybody else in the field of people who are running for president this year, and I`ve interviewed all of them or almost all of them.  I`ve probably interview her more frequently than any of the rest of them.  And as somebody who has talked to her frequently a number of times over the years since she has been in elected office, the biggest question for me about Senator Klobuchar jumping in is why exactly she would do it. 

I mean, for one, she does seem happy, and again, A, she`s funny, B, I think she`s happy.  And I think that will matter in terms of how she introduces herself as a candidate to the country particularly because a lot of people will not have pre-existing biases about her.  They won`t have a pre- existing impression of her. 

So she`s happy, she`s funny.  She`s also a pretty excellent senator if you ask her constituents.  She keeps winning re-election by like 20, 30 plus points.  The next time she runs, Minnesota might send her back with a 40 point margin of victory.  She could certainly hold that seat in the Senate for Minnesota as long as the snow gods smile on her home state every February.

With that good a current gig, with that sort of a place from which she would have to leap in order to do something this hard, would you make that jump?  Would you do it? 

We`ll ask her.  She`s here next.  Stay with us. 


KLOBUCHAR:  I am asking you to join this campaign.  It is a homegrown one.  I don`t know if you can even see our number because of this snow, but you can text Amy at 99110. 

I don`t have a political machine.  I don`t come from money, but what I do have is this.  I have grit.



MADDOW:  You know how when you stand outside sometimes in really, really cold, cold weather and your cheeks get cold and your lips go numb and then sometimes your talker doesn`t work the way it usually does?  Roll tape. 


REPORTER:  Are you tough enough to take on Donald Trump? 

KLOBUCHAR:  I am tough enough to take on Donald Trump because I would like to see him sitting out here in the snow for an hour giving this speech. 



MADDOW:  She did make it all the way through. 

Joining us now for "The Interview" is a much warmer, indoor version of Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.  As of yesterday, she`s the newest candidate in the 2020 Democratic primary. 

Senator, thank you. 

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, thank you.  I hadn`t seen that feed.  I see what happened.  Your mouth freezes. 

MADDOW:  I am tough enough.  I sure am. 


KLOBUCHAR:  It was cold. 

MADDOW:  You knew it was going to be cold. 


MADDOW:  You were warning people that it was going to be heavy wind chill (ph) -- 


MADDOW:  Did you know that you were going to have snow actually piling up on you while you stand? 

KLOBUCHAR:  No, I did not.  In fact, when it later watched the clip, it felt like I was watching myself age in 20 minutes because my hair got whiter and whiter and whiter. 

MADDOW:  Right.

KLOBUCHAR:  And we didn`t know it was going to snow that much that day and we had all these big campfires actually.  It was like some kind of Nordic festival and 5,000 cups of cocoa and cider.  And so, we told people, 5,000 hand warmers, we would have these things if they got cold and that helped to get people there. 

But no one had any idea.  I talked to one, Walter Mondale, an hour before, he wasn`t in town and he said, you`re not doing it outside?  I said yes. 

It was just really important to me to announce my candidacy with the people.  We have a strong tradition of that in Minnesota.  Go back to Humphrey and to Paul Wellstone, and also to do it by that river because the bridge collapsed and we rebuilt it in this incredible sense of community that we had during that time, but also because I thought it was a symbol of crossing the river of our divide, which Donald Trump, of course, has helped create. 

MADDOW:  I was interested to see you put the bridge collapse really at the sort of emotional heart of the start of your speech.  In part because you are very well-known and beloved figure in Minnesota politics, at least based on the margins by which you keep winning reelection but you`re not nationally known.  So, to put a story, a Minnesota story like that, a hometown story like that right at the heart of why you`re trying to run, it felt like the idea there must be that what works in Minnesota can work for the country, and I believe you metaphorically, but I don`t know what about that practical achievement is something that I can imagine these days happening in Washington. 

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, it wasn`t just about working across the aisle getting that money, which we did, and we got the bridge, this huge eight-line highway that almost doesn`t look like a bridge it`s so big.  And we got that done in over a year.  So, it was significant. 

But for me, it was just as much about the community.  It was about the semi truck driver who died because he veered away so he wouldn`t hit the school bus.  The school bus goes down 30 feet and the school worker gets these kids, every one of them off to safety.  The off-duty firefighter who dove in over and over again in the murky waters in these submerged cars and trucks to find survivors.

And that was a sense of community I feel is so fractured right now in our country that we need to bring back, that we need to go across that sturdy bridge to a higher ground.  And so for me, the Mississippi River is more than just a river.  It really is the river that runs through our heartland starting in Minnesota through Illinois, down to Missouri, way down and ends in New Orleans, that city of resilience. 

So the symbolism of it was much more than just getting the funding for the project, which was a great thing and a success but for me, the river stood for more than that. 

MADDOW:  And you mentioned in announcing that you`re going to run, you talked about making the announcement from the Mississippi from the heartland and -- I mean, there is practical politics there, too.  I mean, we`ve got other members of the Senate who are running already.  We have Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, Kamala Harris from California, Julian Castro from Texas, Kirsten Gillibrand from New York, Cory Booker from New Jersey. 

KLOBUCHAR:  Great people. 

MADDOW:  People who are your colleagues, you presumably get along well with. 


MADDOW:  All of those people are from the edge of the country and you`re running from the center of the country.  And it seems to me like that must have factored into your decision about whether or not to run, because as you say, you like all those people.  It can`t be that you can`t think there aren`t enough qualified people running. 

KLOBUCHAR:  Not at all. 

MADDOW:  But you think someone needs to run from the middle of the country. 

KLOBUCHAR:  I do.  And I also think when you look at what happened in this last 2018 election, incredible victories in places like Kansas.  I spoke at their Democratic dinner where Laura Kelly beat Kris Kobach.  I mean, who thought that was going to happen?  But she was so strong.

Wisconsin, that we beat Scott Walker.  You look at all of the victories in the congressional races all over the country, and a lot of that was about people unifying, a lot of the focus, of course, was preexisting conditions and Republicans` attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and kick people off their health insurance. 

But we work together as a party and much of that was going on in the Midwest and we wanted to take back the spirit of the Democratic Party in the Midwest.  Minnesota is a great place to start.  As you know, we are the Democratic Farmer Labor Party, DFL.  And that was done to unify our party and I have won every congressional district including Michele Bachmann`s.  Every single time I`ve run and worked hard to work with people in the rural areas so we don`t have that divide. 

MADDOW:  When -- and I was looking back at the Trump-Clinton results in your state in Minnesota in 2016 and Hillary Clinton did win the state narrowly.  But you look at the electoral math county by county and congressional by congressional district, and it`s a lot of red on that map, and she won basically with her urban turnout there.  You as you said, won every congressional district in the state.  Is that because you have run as a moderate? 

Should people who are just learning about you for the first same see you as a lot of press is describing today, as a more moderate or more centrist Democrat in this field? 

KLOBUCHAR:  I think they should see me as a progressive, because I believe in progress.  And I have worked towards progress my while life, whether it was as a county attorney working with the Innocence Project to bring in new form of eyewitness ID into our county and advocating for videotape interrogations, whether it`s what I did as a senator when I`m on the front line pushing for protection of the democracy.  You look at what happened in the Clinton-Trump race and we`re finding out more and more and more about how Russia undermined that election, and tried to hack it and put out propaganda.

And so, those Democratic reforms, including advocating for every young person being able to be registered to vote when they turn 18, that would be a great bill to get done. 

MADDOW:  Senator Amy Klobuchar, I would hope you will stay with us.  I have lots of things to ask you about including things that people are saying about you that are very nice and things that people are saying about you that are not nice. 

KLOBUCHAR:  That happens when you run for office. 

MADDOW:  Yes, it does.  I find out that it also happens when you become an adult.  Much to my chagrin. 

KLOBUCHAR:  There you go. 

MADDOW:  We`ll be right back with Senator Amy Klobuchar who has just announced that she`s a candidate for president of the United States.


MADDOW:  Back with us now for "The Interview" is Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who`s a newly announced candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. 

Senator, thank you for staying with us. 

KLOBUCHAR:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  Late last month, "The Minneapolis Star Tribune" interviewed a bunch of Iowa voters about you.  Voters told "The Star Trib" that they like you.  They say you`re smart.  They love the job you did questioning Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court confirmation hearings. 

However, they do not necessarily want you to run for president.  Why?  One voter expressed quote concerns about whether your skin is thick enough for how hard the battle will be. 

Another said flatly, you can`t win because you`re too nice.  That voter said, quote: They will run right over her. 

How do you defend people saying they like you too much to want you to run for president? 

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, I think part of that is the nature of our politics, right?  So, people think how could someone who`s more from a normal background run for a job like this? 

And I would say look at me out in the snow.  I`ve always had grit.  I`ve been the first woman to run for and for winning both of the jobs that I have held.

And when I`ve gotten to the Senate, whether it was getting that money for that bridge that I had to stay in my desk and not move to get it done, because they weren`t including it in a bill or whether it is taking on the pharmaceutical companies where I passed the bill that dealt with drug shortages, which no one thought was possible.  We only had two people on it when I started.  Or whether it`s introducing all these bills to take on the pharmaceutical industry on prices.  I have always taken on tough fights, and I usually win them -- maybe not right away, but eventually. 

MADDOW:  And the other side of this scrutiny that you`re getting, as you decided to run, so there`s been a flurry of stories, particularly in the "Huffington Post" and in "BuzzFeed", saying that you are an exceedingly tough boss, maybe too tough that has resulted in too much turnover in your Senate office and that your temperament with your own staff members is beyond demanding. 

How do you a feel about those stories? 

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, I love my staff.  And I wouldn`t be up on that stage like I was yesterday without a great staff, without a great campaign that we have put together.  And also, without a staff that helped me to pass all the bills and worked with me over the years. 

And a number of them -- I wish those stories also will come out -- my chief of staff has been with me for five years.  My state director for seven years.  My campaign manager for 12 years. 

So, we do have that consistency and many of them have gone on to do incredible things.  Jake Sullivan, I brought him to Washington.  He became the chief policy person for Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state.  His brother Tom was with me five years.  Did the same thing for John Kerry. 

I was teasing President Obama the other day.  They have hired -- the White House hired over 20 of my staff members.  You only have about 25 in a Senate office.  A number of them have been coming back to me after they were over there. 

So, that`s my story.  I know I can be too tough sometimes and I can push too hard.  That`s obvious, but a lot of it is because I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work with me.

And, mostly, I`m going to take the high expectations and bring them out to the country because if we want to really get these things done, some of these things should happen.  Some of these things there`s even bipartisan support, like doing something about drug prices or getting something done on climate change, which is just literally regressing under the Trump administration and ice sheets are melting and the fires are raging out in Colorado and in California.  And I will bring those high expectations to the country. 

MADDOW:  When you talk about your staff, the staff situation -- I also feel like for me as somebody that`s talked to you a lot over the years, you`ve been on this show a number of times and I`ve tracked your career ever since you were in the Senate, it struck me also as the first time you`ve really had a round of bad press, and there is the substantive matter of allegations which you just discussed.  I also am interested about how you feel just in terms of your appetite for being -- for getting the inevitable derisive nickname from the president, for being trashed in the press fairly and also unfairly.  I mean, there will be legitimate oppo and there`ll be illegitimate oppo against you. 

I mean, how do you gird yourself for that and have you ever had to deal with it before?

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, my whole life I dealt with adversity.  My dad growing up and I brought this up at the Kavanaugh hearing, while he`s not longer drinking at age 91 -- 90, he struggled with that his whole life and I grew up with that.  I had to deal when my daughter was born, she was really sick.

And I just always believed that if you see obstacles just as obstacles, you`re not going to get through them.  But you see them as the path and your way forward, that`s your path.  That`s how I treated that.  And I`m used to -- by the way, you`re not a prosecutor for eight years running in office with hundreds of lawyers and with murder cases and everything else without dealing with adversity and difficult decisions, and the same thing in the United States Senate. 

So I might have maybe a little more happy demeanor than some of my colleagues, but it doesn`t mean that I`m not steely and tough and can deal with it. 

MADDOW:  You mentioned -- you were teasing President Obama the other day.  Did you -- have you spoken with President about your plans to run? 

KLOBUCHAR:  Yes, I have, as have I think a number of candidates.  I can`t think of a better person to get advice from and he seems, by the way, in a very good mood and working on his book and so proud of what Michelle has been doing. 

MADDOW:  Did he tell you you should run? 

KLOBUCHAR:  I`m not going to say.  He has been -- he gave me very good advice.  So -- 

MADDOW:  All right.  I`m going to try to pry that out of you during the commercial break and then come back and say that you wouldn`t tell me. 

Senator Amy Klobuchar will join us with one more segment when we come back.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  We`re joined again for "The Interview" by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.  She`s now in the first full day of her 2020 presidential campaign. 

Senator, thank you for being here. 

KLOBUCHAR:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  I`ll just cut to the chase.  She couldn`t tell me anything juicy during the commercial break. 

Let me ask you about something that I`ve never talked to you about and I have no idea where you stand on it, and that is the issue of these nuclear treaties.  In my entire adult lifetime, we have always had some sort of treaty with Russia, with the other great nuclear power on earth that regulates the size of our nuclear arsenal, the types of nuclear weapons that we can have, the rate at which they can be built and they must be destroyed. 

The president appears to be steaming toward an outcome where there is not going to be any more nuclear treaties with Russia.  That`s -- they have couched this in the administration as some sort of punishment against Russia.  But the end state is very scary to me. 


MADDOW:  What is your take? 

KLOBUCHAR:  Well, you look what happened and then Putin announces he`s going to move forward and I am certain that Russia has not always been honest with how they have handled these treaties, and you have to keep pushing them.  But for the president after having that memorable meeting where he basically dissed his own intelligence forces in terms of their assessment of what had gone on during the election with Russia, then he announces, well, we`re going to get out of this treaty. 

And I just don`t think we should be doing that.  I think we should be tough negotiators with Russia but our country has to stand as a beacon of democracy and to me, that means staying in the international climate change agreement.  I announced yesterday that would be, I would do that on day one.  Get our country back into that agreement.  That means not balking on the Iran nuclear agreement. 

Again, another number one fear and that agreement may not have been perfect, but now the European countries are struggling with how to make sure it keeps being enforced so that Iran doesn`t develop a nuclear weapon.  And so yes, you can make changes to things and negotiate things.  But to me, it is -- we must stand with our allies, we must be consistent with our foreign policy and we must listen to our troops, listen to what the military is saying, listen to the intelligence officers and another example when he announced he`s pulling troops out of Syria, without any real warning at all to the allies or to his own administration. 

And those things are all examples where he seems to conduct foreign policy by tweet and I don`t think that`s what we should be doing. 

MADDOW:  Do you have views on whether or not U.S. troops somebody in Syria in any sort of long run or in Afghanistan in an ongoing way? 

KLOBUCHAR:  The hope is that we will be bringing them home and I, of course, don`t have privy to the intelligence right now that he has, but I would not have suddenly pulled those troops out of Syria like he did, and leave the Kurds who have stood by our side.  But eventually, yes, of course, we have to bring them home. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the president and his foreign policy agenda and the way things work in this administration, usually with the president, you talk about what the president wants to do because that is going to be what we do.  With this president, there is an expression of what he wants to do and then what we actually do as a government is sometimes different. 

So, for example, the president announced there would be tough sanctions, new sanctions on Russia because of the Skripals poisoning, the nerve agent poisoning in the U.K.  Apparently, his administration never followed through with actually enacting any of those sanctions. 

Similarly, Congress passed a law saying that the Khashoggi murder has to be addressed by the administration.  The administration has to assess whether or not there was Saudi government responsibility for that.  They appeared to have just blown through it and decided they are not going to do it. 

Does that sort of behavior by this president make Republicans see him as a different kind of president, not just a Republican but perhaps somebody who they, even as Republican members of Congress, may be ought to have issues with? 

KLOBUCHAR:  Yes.  And, of course, they say that behind closed doors.

MADDOW:  They do.

KLOBUCHAR:  As you pointed out, I do talk to a lot of Republicans in terms of working on legislation together and I find common ground where I can.  But that`s what they say behind closed doors and sometimes they stand up.  You look at what Senator Flake did before he left and some of what Senator McCain did before we sadly lost him.  There was -- there were people standing up.  And I want to see that again. 

You see murmurs of it from Senator Romney, and from time to time, you see it from Senator Graham.  But we need more people to stand up because this is about our own democracy.  We know that Russia tried to undermine our election and, yet, Senator Lankford and I still can`t pass our bill for backup paper ballots that I`m leading that Senator Harris and Senator Graham are also part of. 

MADDOW:  Bipartisan legislation. 

KLOBUCHAR:  We can`t pass the bill for having audits of these elections, and this is going to be really important as we go into 2020, that we make sure this election is protected so that what happened to Hillary Clinton never happens again. 

MADDOW:  Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota running for president as of this weekend.  Again, my big question for you was why you would run.  I know why you would run.  From hearing you announce, from hearing you talk tonight, I know why you`re running.  I can see the passion that you bring to this. 

If you end up not becoming president of the United States, I hope that you`ll stay in public life forever.  I don`t -- I mean, I just think you are a -- you`re one of the people in this line of work who is the easiest person I`ve talked to in a long time, but you`ve also just done a lot of good in public life thus far.  It`s exciting to see what you can do in the next level. 

KLOBUCHAR:  Thank you.  We`re going to win.  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  Amy Klobuchar. 

KLOBUCHAR:  All right.

MADDOW:  She says she`s going to win.  Take that to the bank. 

All right.  More to come here.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again tomorrow.  I will tell you right now, tomorrow night, I`m going to be interviewing another newly announced Democratic candidate for U.S. president.  Senator Cory Booker is going to be here live tomorrow night. 


Good evening, Lawrence.

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