CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - It took a year of campaigning, countless stump speeches and an especially strong night on the debate stage for little-known Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar to break into the top tier of the 2020 campaign in New Hampshire.
Now she has less than two weeks to make it count.
The Minnesota senator on Tuesday immediately worked to turn her better-than-expected night into enough momentum to be competitive in next-up Nevada and beyond. For Klobuchar, that means consolidating establishment and moderate voters, picking up traction with black and Latino Democrats and introducing herself to most everyone else.
“Hello, America!” she yelled over a cheering crowd at a campaign party in Concord as she was on track to finish in third place. “I’m Amy Klobuchar, and I will beat Donald Trump.”
A third-place finish in New Hampshire counted as a victory for a candidate who spent much of the campaign boasting about being in the “top five” of the crowded field. Klobuchar used the moment to put her no-nonsense appeal in the spotlight. She spoke of growing up the granddaughter of an iron ore miner, becoming the first female senator from Minnesota and defying expectations in the 2020 race. She pledged to take her green campaign bus to Nevada and around the country and to win the nomination.
The senator appeared to benefit Tuesday from former Vice President Joe Biden’s sliding support, picking up moderate and conservative voters looking for an alternative to liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders, the New Hampshire winner, and rejecting political newcomer and second-place finisher Pete Buttigieg.
But Klobuchar’s quest is still an uphill climb. The senator has focused almost all her time and campaign resources in Iowa and New Hampshire, building only spare operations in the states that follow on the primary calendar. She has polled poorly among minority voters, a big obstacle in more diverse states like Nevada and South Carolina. Although she will likely see a bump in support, a surge of donations and new media attention, Klobuchar’s challenge is to set up the infrastructure to capitalize on her moment.