After being asked whether or not she was concerned Trump would be "emboldened" by a Senate acquittal now that House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is set to transmit the articles of impeachment to the upper chamber, Klobuchar replied that she was not, saying members of Congress needed to do their constitutional duty and check the executive.
"I think the best way to think about this trial and what we're facing in this election is a story of a man from Primghar, Iowa," she said, giving a shout-out to the debate's host state, which also will hold the first-in-the-nation caucuses on Feb. 3. "He came from humble beginnings, the son of immigrants. He became the Army Counsel, and he was the one who went to the Joseph McCarthy hearings and ... said, 'Have you no sense of decency, sir?' Have you no sense of decency?"
Klobuchar was referencing former U.S. Army Counsel Joseph Welch, who asked, "At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" to McCarthy in a hearing for the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. That moment is widely considered to be the beginning of the end of the Red Scare and the start of McCarthy's downfall. McCarthy would use false information and conspiracy theories to stoke Americans' paranoia about communist subversion and the Soviet Union, putting many Americans on blacklists for their alleged communist beliefs.
"This is a patriotism check," Klobuchar said. "Not only is this trial that, but also this election. And no matter if you agree with everyone here on this stage, I say this to Americans, you know this is a decency check on this president."
Klobuchar, who has polled in the middle-single-digits in Iowa, came into Tuesday's debate needing to make a splash with four of the candidates on the stage significantly ahead of her. Tuesday is the last time voters will see the top candidates on a stage at the same time before the Iowa caucuses, which can make or break presidential primary campaigns.