CONCORD, NH – Taking aim at President Trump, 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar argued on Monday that the nation’s farmers and workers shouldn’t be used as “poker chips” in what she claimed the president was using “in some kind of game from his bankrupt casinos.”
The Democrat, a three-term senator from Minnesota – campaigning in New Hampshire – also was skeptical of Trump’s claims that his threat to impose tariffs on Mexico forced America’s southern neighbor to “greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration.”
The president on Friday waved off the tariff threat as he announced that the U.S. and Mexico had reached a deal to stem the flow of migrants. However, the deal has been increasingly questioned and criticized in the ensuing days.
Klobuchar was speaking at “Politics and Eggs,” an event considered a must-stop on the campaign trail in New Hampshire.
She pushed back against Trump, saying, “We find out in a headline in The New York Times that actually most of that agreement had been made before he tweeted out that he had gotten this miraculous save of an agreement in response to a crisis that he had created. So, call me skeptical about that claim.”
And, repeating a line she first used on Sunday, she emphasized: “I don’t think the farmers of the Midwest and the workers of New Hampshire should be poker chips, which he appears to be using them in some kind of game from his bankrupt casinos.”
While noting that “you’ve got to do trade in a tough way” and that she’s “not against using tariffs in a targeted way,” the senator added, “The answer is to work with our allies as a group to take this on, not to do everything alone.”
Trump on Monday called the Times report “nonsense.”
The president tweeted Monday that a “very important” part of the agreement with Mexico would be “revealed in the not too distant future.”
And, in an interview Monday with CNBC, he touted, “If we didn’t have tariffs we wouldn’t have made a deal with Mexico.”
“This is something the U.S. has been trying to get for over 20 years with Mexico. As soon as I put tariffs on the table it was done — it took two days,” he emphasized.
Klobuchar was in New Hampshire – the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House – with just over two weeks to go until the first round of primary debates organized by the Democratic National Committee.
With a historic two-dozen candidates running for the nomination, the DNC chose to limit the first two rounds to 10 candidates each night. While many of the lower-tier candidates have criticized the DNC’s criteria to make the debate stage, Klobuchar is not among them.
The senator has reached both thresholds - one-percent polling in three qualifying surveys and contributions from 65,000 individuals.
“You know, I’m OK with it,” she said in an interview with Fox News and two New Hampshire news organizations, when asked about the DNC’s criteria.
While noting that “I do like to have open, free debates,” Klobuchar argued that the field needed to be winnowed. She emphasized “that for voters, they’ve got to start seeing at least 10 or 12 people, or however many it’s going to be, because it’s hard to make a decision when you have so many people in it.”
Klobuchar, who served as county attorney for Hennepin County – Minnesota’s most populous – before winning election to the U.S. Senate in 2006, earlier told a crowd in Concord that she’s never lost an election.
“I have won every place, everywhere, and every time I have run and that includes against people who were expected to win,” she said, repeating a line she’d used before.
She even spotlighted that she won her election for secretary of her high school student council, where she joked that “my slogan was ‘all the way with Amy K,’ which I’m not going to be using anymore.”