For 2020, for Democrats, for America, Amy Klobuchar is the answer.
That may sound a bit surprising to hear from someone who has, before now, been publicly supportive of a different candidate in this year’s Democratic primary race. But, it is a position I now state with full confidence. In this year’s race for the White House, Sen. Amy Klobuchar Minnesota is the candidate we need.
Let me be clear: I love Joe Biden. My support for the former vice president has been genuine. I remain grateful for the years of leadership and the scores of accomplishments that he has given to our country. My prior support for him in this year’s primary was based on my belief that he would be the candidate best suited to take on President Donald Trump in November. I have not been alone in feeling that way.
However, as the voters in early states have begun to have their say, like so many of my fellow Democrats, I found myself grappling with the options and realized that the Democratic Party of 2020 is ready for a fresher voice. Klobuchar is that voice.
A worker with proven results
The caucuses in Iowa and the polls in New Hampshire have done less to winnow the field of primary candidates than in previous contests. They have, in fact, expanded it. Why? Because we all understand the gravity of the decision we must make this year. We must choose an effective messenger who not only speaks to our progressive ideals but also appeals to the many Americans who felt abandoned by us in 2016, including 9% of Obama voters, and voted for Trump.
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We must choose a candidate who can win back the voters we lost in 2016. In 2018, Klobuchar won 42 Minnesota counties carried by Trump on her way to a third consecutive statewide victory by a large margin. She is a proven winner.
Many primary voters across the country are still undecided at this stage in the primary for a reason. In addition to wanting to nominate a candidate who we know can win, we want — no, need — a candidate who can back up his or her ideas with a track record of success in getting things done.
In the Senate, Klobuchar led the fight to lower the costs of prescription drugs, expand voting rights and combat the opioid epidemic. She has managed to pass more than 100 bills into law as lead Democrat — including more than 40 under the Trump administration — and been ranked one of the most effective members of Congress. Klobuchar has the track record of getting things done.
2020 is a unique challenge
To appeal to the many voters we need, we also need a candidate we can trust. We need a candidate who is honest and who is authentic.
I, for one, am tired of candidates trying to dazzle me with meaningless platitudes or beat me over the head with poll-tested spin. I’m not so stupid that I can’t realize when a candidate doesn’t answer the question. I am not so forgetful that I don’t remember when they spit out the same talking points in every interview. The political world is littered with self-important candidates who speak to us like … well … politicians. We need a candidate who, instead of speaking with scripted talking points, is straightforward, honest and down to earth. Klobuchar is relatable.
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I cannot lie — it has been a tough decision for me to move my support from Biden to another candidate. He has been a constant in my political life. In fact, my first political contribution ever went to his presidential campaign in 2008. His selfless dedication to our country is something that can never be discounted.
But 2020 is a different year than 2008; 2020 demands from us a candidate who can excite. Amy sees the potential in us. That is exciting. She restores my hope.
As a voter who admires the many qualities that Biden might have brought to a general election race, I must judge every other possible candidate by that standard: a proven ability to deliver real results; a track record of appealing to all voters and winning in liberal, moderate and conservative districts alike; relatability; empathy; accomplishment. There is only one other candidate on the primary ballot that checks off all of those boxes. That candidate is Amy Klobuchar.
Some columnists have claimed that the 2020 primary decision for Democrats is a choice among “revolution”, “rejuvenation” or “restoration” — among candidates who want change, candidates who want a fresh new messenger for our progressive ideals, and candidates who want to restore our national values and the empathy that we’ve missed in our leaders in the past four years.
I believe we don’t have to make a choice. There is one candidate who can deliver on all three of those.
Amy is the answer.
Clay Aiken is a singer, actor and former Democratic candidate for North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District. Follow him on Twitter: @clayaiken