For the second time Thursday evening, Klobuchar seized an opportunity to challenge Buttigieg, with whom she is competing for support in all-important Iowa. This time, she challenged his assertions that work his opponents have done in Washington hasn’t led to progress. She catalogued the achievements of Biden and her Senate colleagues, citing Warren’s creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Biden’s fundraising to cure cancer.
“So while you can dismiss committee hearings, I think this experience works. And I have not denigrated your experience as a local official. I have been one,” Klobuchar said, and the audience gasped and chuckled, seemingly interpreting the line as Klobuchar denigrating Buttigieg’s experience as a local official.
“You know, I just think you should respect our experience when you look at how you evaluate someone who can get things done.”
Buttigieg said Klobuchar had, indeed, denigrated his position as a local official. Then he revisited a point he wanted to make when Klobuchar first challenged him by arguing that his defense of the First Amendment was built on mere “talking points.”
“You seemed to imply that our relationship to the First Amendment was a talking point, as if anyone up here has any more or less commitment to the Constitution than anybody else up here,” Buttigieg, a veteran of the Naval Reserve, said. “Let me tell you about my relationship to the First Amendment. It is part of the Constitution that I raised my right hand and swore to defend with my life. That is my experience. And it may not be the same as yours, but it counts. Senator, it counts.”
The argument swung back to Klobuchar, who argued that the Democratic nominee should be someone who “has actually won and been able to show that they can gather the support that you talk about, moderate Republicans and independents, as well as a fired up Democratic base– and not just done it once.”
“If you just go by vote totals, maybe what goes on in my city seems small to you. Want to talk about the capacity to win? Try putting together a coalition to bring you back to office with 80 percent of the vote as a gay dude [in] Mike Pence’s Indiana,” Buttigieg said. Klobuchar then pointed out that when Buttigieg ran statewide (in his 2010 race for state treasurer) he lost by 20 points. The moderators turned the conversation elsewhere.