Amy Klobuchar on the Struggle Bus: Campaign Disorganized, Scrambling Ahead of Nevada Caucuses

MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 11: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) reacts as she gets off her campaign bus to visit the polling location at Webster Elementary School during the primary election on February 11, 2020 in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is having trouble channeling the momentum from her third-place finish in New Hampshire into Nevada as her campaign descends into disorganization — with her campaign “scrambling” to fill key positions and instructing staffers to drive her campaign bus thousands of miles across the country due to her lack of a campaign bus in the Silver State — just days ahead of the caucuses, according to reports.

While Klobuchar considered her strong third-place finish in New Hampshire a victory, it was short-lived as all eyes turned to the Nevada caucuses. Klobuchar’s presence in the state has not been as strong as some of her rivals, and her campaign is reportedly struggling to adjust accordingly.

According to the Washington Post, Klobuchar is “scrambling to hire for basic jobs that other campaigns filled months ago, including a Nevada operations director.” She has resorted to using her Iowa specialist to help her strategize ahead of the Nevada caucuses due to her lack of a Nevada caucus specialist, and she “had no campaign bus in Nevada, so staffers had to drive the one in New Hampshire 2,700 miles to get there”:

“We’re putting the airplane together as we’re flying it,” one adviser told the Washington Post.

The problems extend far behind Nevada, the Post adds. A poor showing in Nevada could quash all momentum that followed the New Hampshire primary and compromise her performance in South Carolina. If she fails to show up in either state, her ability to adequately compete in Super Tuesday states could be greatly, if not all, diminished.

The Post specifically notes Klobuchar’s disconnect among black voters — a key demographic in South Carolina and one Joe Biden (D) is resting his dwindling presidential aspirations on:

She struggles especially to connect with African American voters, and black activists say she has made little effort. The campaign in recent days had to ask a former Democratic official for a list of black churches in South Carolina, which votes a week after Saturday’s Nevada caucuses.

“Where’s Amy?” Roland Martin, a prominent black political analyst, posted on his Instagram account recently. “If she wants black votes, she has to talk to black people.”

However, Klobuchar’s staffers are reportedly strategizing on how to effectively compete in upcoming states, questioning if it is worth investing resources in states like Texas and California:

Some advisers want her to focus instead on independent-minded states that aren’t overly liberal, like Maine and Tennessee, because they might be receptive to her centrist message. But those states, of course, yield much fewer delegates.

“From the beginning of this campaign, she has been understaffed and under-resourced compared to the other leading candidates,” Klobuchar adviser Norm Sterzenbach said, according to the Post.

“So the strategy is always going to be to find moments that she can capitalize on to build momentum that leads into the next piece and the next piece. So it’s going to be, for a little while, step by step for her,” he added.

As Sterzenbach suggested, the presidential hopeful’s campaign has tried to capitalize on significant moments. It recently celebrated a fundraising milestone, raising over $12 million following the New Hampshire debate.

“We’re building up our staff all over the country, actually in the Super Tuesday states, because finally, I’ve gotten the resources I need, over $12 million just in the little over a week since the New Hampshire debate,” Klobuchar said during an appearance on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Indeed, Klobuchar has seen an uptick in endorsements, particularly from key newspapers like the Las Vegas Weekly, which praised the Minnesota senator as a “sincere and results-oriented leader,” and the Houston Chronicle, which proclaimed that she possessed the “secret sauce” to win.

She has since been working to juice up her funds, attending a high-dollar fundraiser in the Beverly Hills home of Jaws star Lorraine Sheinberg. Tickets reportedly went for $500.

She is also making efforts in the Palmetto State, launching a six-figure ad blitz ahead of the state’s upcoming primary.

Klobuchar will have another chance to experience a breakout moment during Wednesday’s Democrat debate in Las Vegas. She will appear alongside rivals Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Pete Buttigieg (D), and Michael Bloomberg (D).

Nonetheless, the RealClearPolitics average spells trouble for Klobuchar, who is sitting in sixth place with 5.8 percent support nationally.

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