Politics & Government

Remember Jimmy Carter? 2020 hopeful hints to SC voters that she can win as underdog

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar makes her first trip to South Carolina

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke at the Greenville County Democrats’ Monthly Breakfast at Upstate Circle of Friends Saturday Feb. 23, 2019, in Greenville, SC.
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U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke at the Greenville County Democrats’ Monthly Breakfast at Upstate Circle of Friends Saturday Feb. 23, 2019, in Greenville, SC.

In South Carolina, Amy Klobuchar hit policy points that Greenville County voters said Saturday every 2020 Democrat seeking the White House should repeat: support of universal health care, immigration reform and enhanced broadband in the nation’s rural communities.

Voters said they liked her willingness to work with Republicans and cut out the divisiveness they said has jammed Washington, D.C.

“She sounds like common sense,” said Cindy Rogers, of Travelers Rest. “I like that.”

However, while voters said they believe the U.S. senator from Minnesota could run a competitive race against President Donald Trump in November 2020, some wondered aloud whether she has what it takes to win the S.C. primary, the South’s first early-voting state.

South Carolina historically has decided the Democratic nominee for president.

“That is the thing that concerns me the most,” said Robin Forestal, of Greenville. “Is she electable for the primary?”

Klobuchar made her first trip to South Carolina on Saturday since announcing her 2020 presidential bid earlier this month, addressing more than 100 Greenville Democrats with a roughly 30-minute stump speech that helped raise the profile of Tina Belge, a Democrat running against state Rep. Dwight Loftis, R-Greenville, in a special election to fill now U.S Rep. William Timmons’ open state Senate seat.

Klobuchar met with voters in Columbia later Saturday.

In Greenville, Klobuchar attempted to tamp down any concern of her ability to campaign and win among a competitive pack of Democrats, sharing her Friday visit to Georgia, where she ate lunch with former President Jimmy Carter — a “great president of the South,” she said — and his wife, Rosalynn.

“He was recounting to me their 1976 campaign, where no one thought he could win, right,” she said. “And he was the underdog.”

Klobuchar said South Carolinians should expect her back in the Palmetto State between now and February 2020 — “a lot,” she said.

“I love this state,” she said.

Klobuchar’s visit came on the heels of a New York Times’ Friday article, which detailed her treatment of staff, described in the report as demanding and “often dehumanizing.” The article included one instance while visiting South Carolina in 2008.

Klobuchar did not explicitly address the story, but called her former Senate campaign staff “incredible,” adding, “many of them are still with me on this race.”

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Maayan Schechter (My-yahn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.

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