No, said the officials of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, they weren’t endorsing Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota for president.
Rather, they had joined her Wednesday in the party’s Philadelphia headquarters to cheer her campaign’s focus on three states: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
“We cannot win this election without this strong blue wall,” Klobuchar said, launching a tour of the states while standing between State Sen. Sharif Street, the state party vice chair, and State Sen. Vincent Hughes. “And my case that I will be making out there for me is that I’m someone who has won those voters.”
The three states were nicknamed the Blue Wall because they had voted Democratic in presidential elections for years until, in 2016, they didn’t — and gave Donald Trump the White House.
Street encouraged all candidates to mimic Klobuchar’s focus on the blue wall. He said the state party, which will not endorse any candidate in the primary, is already staffing up to help Democrats up and down the ballot next year.
“In 2016 in many respects … we as a Democratic Party did not have a real message to small-town and rural Pennsylvanians," Street said. "Pennsylvania has long been a blue wall protecting the rest of America from insanity and we will return to be that in 2020.”
The focus on the three states, which Trump won by narrow margins, isn’t exclusive. Former Vice President Joe Biden headquartered his campaign in Philadelphia. The Democratic National Committee hosted its second debate in Detroit this summer; candidates have independently made several trips through the states.
Klobuchar’s tour will include meetings with union carpenters in Pittsburgh and dairy farmers in Wisconsin. Nationally, she is polling at about 1.3%, though a recent Iowa survey showed her numbers growing in the caucus state south of Minnesota.
The granddaughter of an iron ore miner and the only candidate on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Klobuchar said she knows rural and exurban issues and voters. She has won three Senate elections by double digits, even carrying staunch Republican counties.
Her pitch as the more moderate candidate who can appeal to the Rust Belt echoes Biden’s.
Klobuchar said she’s different because she actually lives in the Midwest (as does South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of Indiana). She’s also one of five women running, and said she comes from “a new generation of politicians, a generation that has actually governed during the Trump era.”
“When I announced in the middle of that blizzard … with that four inches of snow on my head, I made the point that I come from grit but also that we need to cross the river of divide to a higher plain in our politics," she said. “I think that’s what people are looking for right now.”