The Atlantic

Amy Klobuchar’s Hazy ‘Heartland Economics’

The senator from Minnesota is counting on farmers and other rural voters in Iowa, a state she must win.
Source: Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—Amy Klobuchar is counting on “heartland economics” to win Iowa and make her the candidate of the Midwest—though she’s still working through what precisely she means by that, and how it would actually lead her to the Democratic presidential nomination.

The senator from Minnesota touts herself as a tough, pragmatic midwesterner who can take the caucuses by appealing to what Iowa has in common with her home state, and who can reclaim the voters in neighboring states who abandoned the party in 2016 and handed Donald Trump the presidency. Her campaign, she says, is all about heartland economics, the expression she’s been talking about since her campaign launch in a snowstorm that made for great pictures, showed off what she likes to call her “grit,” helped raise $1 million in a day, and got President Trump to tweet snidely about her and a global-warming conspiracy.

[Graeme Wood: The two Amy Klobuchars]

Her pitch is part nostalgia, both for what the Midwest used to be, and what it never actually was—all wrapped in a sense of what, in other contexts, might be described as identity politics.

“Heartland economics,” she told me over breakfast recently at the Marriott on the outskirts of town here during a March tour of northeastern Iowa, “is bread-and-butter, commonsense economics.”

What does that mean, I asked her?

“It’s kind of looking back in time, when the Midwest was driving the economic engine of the country, which it does in certain segments still. It was the Midwest

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