Klobuchar running hard despite lead in pollsby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
BLOOMING PRAIRIE, Minn. — With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is traveling the state urging her supporters to vote.
Polls show Klobuchar with a big lead over her Republican opponent Kurt Bills, but she's not taking it easy. Meanwhile, other DFL candidates are hoping to benefit from Klobuchar's popularity.
The conventional wisdom is that Klobuchar's re-election is mostly a formality. Along with her double-digit lead in the polls she has raised millions more for her campaign than Bills.
But Klobuchar is still campaigning hard across the state. Earlier this week, she made a campaign swing throughout southeastern Minnesota.
Jobs are a top issue this election cycle and Klobuchar has been discussing the economy with some of the state's business owners as she did Wednesday at BioPlastic Solutions in Blooming Prairie.
Company CEO Gary Noble gave Klobuchar a tour of his company which makes things like tubing, windows and fencing.
Noble also used his time with Klobuchar to ask her to loosen some government regulations that make it difficult for the company to operate. He also pleaded with her to keep taxes low. After the tour, Noble said he and other business owners appreciate that she's listening.
"I have 11 of us as partners in this company and most of us are more Republican than Democrat," Noble said. "We voted for her. Every one of them called me today and said we'll vote for her and will again. Why? Because she's coming to the middle, because she's working across the aisle for small businesses."
Klobuchar tries to highlight cooperation on the campaign trail. During a business luncheon, she told a group of manufacturers in Blooming Prairie that she'll continue to work with Republicans in Washington.
"Courage in the next few years isn't going to be someone just standing up by themselves giving a speech," she said. "Courage is going to be whether they're willing to stand next to someone they don't always agree with for the betterment of this country."
Klobuchar said her top priorities if re-elected will be to focus on business issues, creating a skilled workforce and helping reduce the annual federal deficit and the accumulated national debt.
Klobuchar said she supports using a mix of taxes and spending cuts to fix the problem. She favors eliminating the Bush era tax cuts for people earning more than $250,000 a year. She also would eliminate subsidies to oil companies, allow Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs and cap the home mortgage deduction on homes priced above $500,000.
Democrats hope Klobuchar's popularity pays dividends on Election Day. Along with her race, she's focused on helping elect Democrats to Congress and to the Legislature. She is also speaking out against the proposed constitutional amendments that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman and require Minnesotans to present a photo ID to vote.
During a stop in Northfield, Klobuchar encouraged Democrats to continue making phone calls and knocking on doors.
"At this point, it becomes about math," she said. "It becomes about getting the numbers out. Every single doors matters."
Two DFL candidates for the Legislature who hope to ride Klobuchar's momentum are David Bly and Kevin Dahle, both of whom lost their legislative seats in 2010. They're running again in new districts.
"Midterm elections are always tough for sitting legislators but to have the president and Sen. Klobuchar at the top of the ticket, I believe is a positive," Dahle said. "I believe there's some real coattails there and I'm excited to be down the ballot."
Bly feels the same way.
"If people look at the brand 'DFLer' and they see Amy Klobuchar, she's someone that they can respect and like," he said. "If they haven't considered a candidate down the ticket further they'll at least give it a second look. They'll look at some of the same messages and same values. It does help."
Klobuchar has spent some time campaigning for Senate candidates in other states. But she has no plans to leave the state between now and Election Day.
She said there's more campaigning to do for herself and other Minnesota Democrats.
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- All Things Considered, 10/26/2012, 5:24 p.m.