Senator Amy Klobuchar held a meet-and-greet for approximately 300 supporters in a crowded Columbia home on Saturday to give attendees a chance to talk to her directly.
Donald Fowler, former national chair of the Democratic National Committee and current USC professor, hosted Klobuchar at his home in Columbia. Klobuchar announced her campaign at a rally on Feb. 10 at Boom Island Park in Minnesota, which gained notoriety because of the snowy conditions. She chose that park to use the landscape as a metaphor as to what she wants to change in America come the 2020 presidential election.
“I wanted to make the point that we need to cross the river of our divide and walk on the sturdy bridge that is our democracy," Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar said she wants to bring unity back to America and presents a moderate democratic platform to the 2020 Democratic primaries. Her platform includes training workers for the changing workforce brought forth by artificial intelligence, introducing a privacy bill to protect consumers' data from tech companies, reducing prescription drug prices and rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, among many other policies.
Klobuchar said she thinks these ideas are present in South Carolina and pointed to recent Democratic Party victories in the state as her evidence.
“South Carolina is changing, and we’re going to see some incredible victories, I predict,” Klobuchar said.
Megan Rigabar, a fourth-year global studies and Spanish student, said she became interested in Klobuchar after seeing her during Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings. Rigabar said Klobuchar's moderate policies and message of unity will lend her success in the Democratic primaries and in the general election if she receives the nomination.
“I think her moderate policies would sway independents,” Rigabar said. "More so than other candidates who are more extreme or espouse more radical policy measures.”
Rigabar said that Klobuchar's ability to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans proves that she can do the same during the general election with voters.
Unlike many other of Klobuchar's opponents in the Democratic field, this event was a meet-and-greet and not a political rally, which gave attendees the opportunity to snap a picture with Klobuchar and talk to her for a bit.
“In a more intimate setting, people can really talk about the real issues," Rigabar said. "You don’t have the pomp and circumstance of a big rally — you're just there with people talking, and I think that really lends itself to a lot more in-depth conversation.”
Jordan Wayburn, a fourth-year political science student, was interested in Klobuchar's focus on climate change and her desire to bring back clean coal. He also said that Klobuchar was not just spewing common political speech.
“When I was listening to her, she sounded like she actually knew what she was talking about," Wayburn said. "She sounded intelligent when she said it, like she'd given it thought, she'd heard the reasoning and she actually understood why to come to that position and how to do it, and that was really cool.”
Prior to this event, Wayburn did not know who Klobuchar was and had only seen her name on a crowded list of Democratic candidates on Wikipedia.
“I had not heard of her," Wayburn said. “But I’m a big fan now.”
Molly Hart, a fourth-year marketing student, said that her short conversation with Senator Klobuchar allowed her to express her political views and make an impact on the future of America. She also said that if Klobuchar wins the presidency that she will focus on improving the environment, a task she thinks is ignored by the current administration.
Hart said that being a current college student gives her the opportunity to discuss politics with professors and that students have endless knowledge in the form of smartphones at their fingertips.
“We’re the future, and we’re the ones that have to vote,” Hart said. “I think since this is our future and these are our lives, we have to get out there and vote."
Garrett Dailey, a third-year sport and entertainment student, said that increasing student debt and legalization of marijuana are among his biggest concerns going into the 2020 presidential election.
“I think the biggest thing is just the increasing student debt," Dailey said. “I think it’s getting really hard for kids to kind of go to school.”
Dailey says that the only way to get more students involved is to have more of these meet-and-greet events.
“I think the biggest thing is more events like these where you can kind of meet the candidate kind of get to see them in person, how they feel and what their issues are," Dailey said. "And I think that’s the only way to energize.”