While Democrats on Capitol Hill have been debating internally about what their messages on climate change and tech corporations should be, Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., came to South by Southwest Saturday to share her ideas: harness the excitement behind the Green New Deal and tax big tech corporations for selling personal data.
Klobuchar spoke with Recode co-founder and editor-at-large Kara Swisher before a room that slowly filled throughout their hour-long conversation at ACL Live in downtown Austin.
The senator won re-election last year by 24.1 percentage points in a state 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took by only 1.5 percentage points, a point which she highlighted as a reason she could beat President Donald Trump in 2020.
Her strategy for 2020 also includes picking the right battles and applying humor to respond to the president's tweets.
"But when he says things that are racist, when he says things that are anti-immigrant, that are meant to foment hate, yes you call him on it, but you never lose track of your goal, which is to bring this country together," Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar said she has backed the Green New Deal resolution put forward by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., because she wants to harness the aspirational spirit and excitement behind the deal, not because she believes it can be accomplished in 10 years.
"Let's stop admiring this problem and do something about it right now," Klobuchar said.
Ocasio-Cortez's plan has drawn the support of Democratic presidential hopefuls, but others, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have spoken out against the resolution. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, has said he would put the resolution to a vote in the Senate in an effort to get Democratic senators on the record on a controversial issue.
"I look forward to seeing Mitch McConnell try to use that against America," Klobuchar said.
The senator also backed applying anti-trust laws to tech corporations, but did not go as far as to say they should be broken up, like her colleague and primary competitor U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said on Friday.
"I like that they are incredibly successful for America ... but I don't like that they've been saying 'trust us' for so long and we did it," Klobuchar said.
While targeting the uncontrolled growth of tech companies, she also called on the federal government to work with private businesses to strengthen cybersecurity.
"The biggest role of government in my life was protecting people's safety, but right now, they did not protect our safety. Not the safety of privacy, not the safety of our national security," Klobuchar said.
When asked about reports that she abused and demeaned staffers, including one alleged incident in which she ate food from a comb on an airplane, the senator said she has high expectations of herself and others.
"As I look back on my time in the Senate, I know a few things," Klobuchar said. "I know that I can be tough with people, sometimes too tough, that I can push them too hard, that I can always do better, but I also know that we have incredible people who work with me."
"I look forward to seeing Mitch McConnell try to use that against America