Klobuchar gaining traction in Iowa with Midwest sensibility

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks during the Iowa Farmers Union Presidential Forum, Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, in Grinnell, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

INDIANOLA, IA – Quick with a joke and unsparing in her mockery of President Donald Trump, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her Midwest sensibility show signs of gaining traction in Iowa, her neighboring state and where her presidential ambitions rise and fall.

She regularly ignites laughter while campaigning, as she did Friday with a line about a mishap involving her hair during last month's Democratic debate.

But what's helping Klobuchar, 59, gain traction at a key moment in the intensifying campaign for the Iowa caucuses, more than a punchy campaign style, is a self-assured sense of the possible and a bold recitation of what she has done.

“Make it simple: a nonprofit option, insurance that you can buy into to compete with the insurance companies,” Klobuchar told 50 people crammed into a coffee shop in small-town Indianola, south of Des Moines, on Friday. "So this is where you start."

Klobuchar is banking on a litany of compromise legislation in the Senate during her two terms and a bipartisan tone to help spur a glimmer of hope in her campaign in Iowa, the nation's first voting state.

“She's a lot more realistic than a lot of them," said Maxine Willadson, 64, a registered nurse who later attended a campaign event in the back of a restaurant in rural southern Iowa. “I think she speaks to us. I can relate to her.”

Klobuchar, who long struggled to catch on, has benefited from lively debate performances and a sense of curiosity among those Iowans like Willadson — she also likes former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — who are anxious the far-reaching agendas of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are too costly and politically unpopular.

“What I do is find common ground where I can find it and stand my ground where I must,” Klobuchar said in Chariton.