An absolute must in the masochists’ calendar was last night’s five consecutive CNN town halls for 2020 Democrats in New Hampshire. Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg fielded questions from local students (and some bussed in from Harvard) in a marathon event compered by Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper.
Bernie is surging in the polls, Warren’s policies have been the talk of the Twittersphere and Buttigieg has carved himself a niche as the people’s champion. But it was the opening act, Amy Klobuchar, who produced the highlight of the night.
Amy Klobuchar has her "please clap" moment pic.twitter.com/b3SrveBeaf
— Aidan McLaughlin (@aidnmclaughlin) April 22, 2019
The Minnesota senator was talking up her election record, to demonstrate her prowess as a candidate in purple states. ‘Every single time I have run, I have won every congressional district in my state, including Michele Bachmann’s, OK?’, she bragged.
Met with the merest of titters from the crowd of students (you would have thought a Bachmann line would kill with them), Klobuchar doubles down: ‘It’s when you guys are supposed to cheer, OK?’ The desperate move earns a bigger laugh and round of applause from the audience.
Immediately, people online drew parallels with Jeb! Bush’s tragicomic moment from his 2016 presidential campaign, where he asked an audience, also in New Hampshire, to ‘please clap.’
It’s been a rough start to the Democratic primary for the candidate Trump dubbed the ‘Snowman(woman)’. Initially it appeared she may be able to build momentum as a Midwestern moderate with fewer faux pas than some of the other contenders from the Senate (step forward Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren). But Klobuchar hit a stumbling block after reports emerged in HuffPost and the New York Times of her mistreating her congressional staff. One infamous snippet from the Times story describes how the senator berated a staffers for bringing her a salad without a fork, which she then proceeded to eat with a comb.
Since that setback, Klobuchar has made a pledge to ‘use humor’ to fight back against Trump. If this play for cheers in New Hampshire was part of that strategy, Cockburn can’t help but wonder if the senator understands the difference between laughing ‘with’ someone and laughing ‘at’ them.
Does the Klobuchar campaign have legs? Time will tell. Cockburn can see how this slip up might shave a point off her in the Donkey Dow this week…