Klobuchar pledges infrastructure support during Detroit speech

Amy Klobuchar speaking in Detroit, May 3, 2019, Ken Coleman

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Friday touted her support for improving the nation’s infrastructure, support for Obamacare and criminal justice reform during her first campaign visit to Michigan since announcing her candidacy for president.  

“I’m sure you are sick and tired of having all the infrastructure in the country on the back of local officials,” she said to hearty applause in Detroit Friday afternoon. “It is time for the federal government to step in with a big infrastructure plan.”

Wayne County Commission Chair Alisha Bell, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Virgie Rollins and Derek Albert | Ken Coleman

Klobuchar was speaking to the National Organization of Black County Officials (NOBCO) Economic Development Conference held at the Marriott Hotel.

Another presidential hopeful, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), addressed the group on Thursday morning, as the Advance reported.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announcing her 2020 presidential campaign. | Lorie Shaull

The third-term Democrat recently unveiled a plan to spend $1 trillion in federal funds to upgrade the country’s infrastructure. Klobuchar’s plan is among her top policy priorities. It was a familiar topic for Michiganders in the room, as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has also made infrastructure her No. 1 issue.

A former county prosecutor who formally announced her candidacy for U.S. president at a Feb. 10 outdoor press conference as huge snowflakes fell around her, Klobuchar is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School.  

She has joined a crowded field of 22 Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in 2020, with New York Mayor Bill De Blasio likely to jump in soon, as well.

As Minnesota’s senior U.S. senator, Klobuchar supports reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights. She also was an opponent of the Iraq war.

Protest in support of the Affordable Care Act | LaDawna Howard, Flickr

“I will stand up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I think we need to improve it with a public option,” she said.

Klobuchar said “four out of 10 Americans don’t have even have the $400 [needed] to pay off an emergency bill.”

She also said she will protect health care coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions, a key part of the ACA. The President Trump administration is supporting a lawsuit that would dismantle the law that resulted in 20 million Americans gaining health coverage.

The senator also stated support for meaningful criminal justice reform.

“We finally did get our act together in Washington on one thing, and that is the First Step Act. And that was a combined effort across the aisle to say, ‘Let’s reduce the federal drug sentences for nonviolent offenders,’” she said.

Amy Klobuchar and NOBCO Executive Director Helen L. Holton | Ken Coleman

“That was the first step, but it was only the first. The second step should be to create incentives that work for you. So we get incentives for state and local governments where by the way 90 percent of offenders right now are in state and local incarceration. You know that. So we should create incentives on the federal level to get those sentences down, as well.”

Klobuchar also talked about the need for broadband across rural America, as well as free two-year community college for students.

Three other Democrats are slated to campaign in Michigan through Monday, as the Advance reported: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and businessman Andrew Yang. Whitmer is scheduled to attend the Detroit NAACP dinner that Harris will keynote on Sunday.

Donald Trump | Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Michigan has been a top destination for 2020 hopefuls, including President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).

Klobuchar is scheduled to return to Detroit for a Women’s Caucus luncheon before the Michigan Democratic Party’s annual Legacy Dinner on May 18.

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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