Abigail Bessler, daughter of Minnesota senator and Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, made a brief stop at UNI on Thursday, Jan. 23 while traveling across Iowa in support of her mother’s campaign.
Klobuchar, along with fellow senators and candidates Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) have been pulled off the Iowa campaign trail and into the Washington courtroom thanks to the Senate trial for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
To maintain a presence in Iowa in the final days before the Feb. 3 caucuses, several candidates have sent surrogates to campaign in their place. Bessler is serving that purpose for her mother’s campaign, visiting campuses such as Simpson, Grinnell, University of Iowa and Drake in addition to UNI. She is also attending “hot dish house parties” at night.
“The voters here are very warm, and they’re kind of independent thinking,” said Bessler. “It’s kind of similar [to Minnesota] where you can’t take any area for granted, you have to go everywhere and meet people, and people really value [that]. You have to go out and hear what people are saying and respond, and they want someone who will do that.”
Although her mother is currently unable to visit Iowa voters in person, Bessler emphasized that Klobuchar has already visited all 99 Iowa counties — the only candidate at the Jan. Democratic debate to do so.
“I think people have already gotten to know her pretty well in Iowa, so now we’re out there reinforcing the message,” Bessler said.
Klobuchar also hosted a telephone town hall on Wednesday, Jan. 22 in which over 12,000 Iowans participated, according to Bessler.
Bessler discussed key points of her mother’s platform, from climate change legislation to reducing the cost of health care and prescription drugs.
“She wants to be a person that people can call with an issue and she can get things done,” Bessler said. “I think that’s the kind of spirit we want in a president — someone you can actually count on.”
Bessler emphasized the importance of the election not just on the national level, but in local and state races as well.
“We need to win back the Senate in order to get all these reforms passed, [and] she has a record of showing she can win in those places that we didn’t win in 2016,” Bessler said.
She noted that in the 2018 midterm elections, Klobuchar won 42 counties which Trump had previously won in 2016.
She also described the election as not just a question of candidates’ platforms, but a “decency check” for the country.
“I think a lot of people feel like they’ve lost faith in democracy and our entire democratic system in the past few years and I think it’s important to elect a candidate that can bring people together rather than divide people,” she said. “[The 2016 election] was a call to action for our country, and I’m really proud that my mom is heeding that call.”
Sydney Wagner, social media director for the Northern Iowa Democrats, agreed.
“Coming into 2020 gives us the chance to just right a wrong,” she said. “Because we’ve been burned before [in the 2016 election], we know that we need to work twice as hard.”
Klobuchar is currently polling at 11% in Iowa, according to a recent poll from Focus on Rural America, putting at her in fifth place in the state. She also received an endorsement from the editorial staff of the New York Times, along with Warren, on Monday, Jan. 20.