MASON CITY — Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) found herself in a Walt Whitman state of mind at her first Iowa campaign stop since declaring her candidacy for the 2020 Presidential Election.
Specifically, she felt it apt to quote to the at-capacity Lorado's crowd a poem from the "Leaves of Grass" author that name-checks "masons," masonry and the fundamental, "dignified" jobs that mold America.
"I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, those of mechanics, each one singing as it should be blithe and strong," Whitman began in the 1860 piece "I Hear America Singing." "The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, the mason singing his as he makes ready for work."
The road taken through 19th century American poetry was one of several history lessons Klobuchar used to frame her 22-minute speech.
There were forking paths that touched on: income disparity, health care, climate change, antitrust law and the "shock" of the 2016 election results.
Klobuchar elucidated "how we got here" and how it would be possible to "cross the river of our divide."
To the senior senator from Minnesota, such a rapprochement would have to start by not "governing from chaos" but by closely hemming to so-called "Heartland economics."
Cornerstones of that fiscal philosophy: getting big money out of politics, expanding broadband access to rural areas, reversing provisions of the 2017 GOP tax bill and establishing a national 15 dollar minimum wage.
"We need an economy in America that works as one," Klobuchar said perched from a white Cosco stool with gray rubber grip. "We need to stop this rural/urban divide."
Klobuchar argued that she's done that by working with politicians such as Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and now-deceased Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) on bills to challenge the pharmaceutical industry and reform the immigration process.
"Our country has always been a beacon for new immigrants," Klobuchar said. The former attorney for Hennepin County has more Somali-American citizens than anywhere else in the United States.
And to make that beacon shine as bright as possible to the rest of the world: Klobuchar pledged that if elected president she would re-enter the Paris Climate Accords, which President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2017, on her first day in the White House.
Even in such moments, Klobuchar didn't spend much time attacking the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.. Instead she kept hammering home the need to "meet people on common ground."
References to President Trump were largely oblique, save for a reference to "governing by tweets" and "Snow woman" not being such a bad presidential nickname to be hit with.
Her sternest rebuke came in a brief stop off, after the main speech, at the north-facing Southbridge Mall entrance which was the overflow area for Lorado's.
"I know that I can beat Donald Trump," Klobuchar flatly stated to the crowd. "I don't have super PACs or well-oiled machines, (but) what I do have is grit and my friends and my neighbors."
Whether that grit will be enough to propel Klobuchar to the nomination remains to be seen.
Lydia Futrell, a 17-year-old Clear Lake resident, who came out to the event with her mom Alice admitted that she didn't "know a lot about Senator Klobuchar" who had only 2 percent of support among Democratic voters in a recent Monmouth 2020 primary poll.
The high school student said that her top two issues were climate change and gun violence.
Klobuchar didn't address the issue of gun violence nor did she spend much time on recent allegations that she is an abusive boss to staff members and once threw a binder at an aide.
That topic was left to the Iowa GOP to broach.
Chairman Jeff Kaufmann didn't even wait for the event to start before he issued a statement saying that "Senator Klobuchar should learn what it means to be 'Iowa Nice' during her visit, because the Iowans I know will not accept this childish and offensive behavior."
When asked about her allegedly abusive behavior on "Good Morning America," the three-term senator said, "I am tough, I push people, that is true. But my point is I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people who work with me, and I have high expectations for this country."