No one will confuse U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s just-released book with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s biting comments.
The Minnesota Democrat, serving her second Senate term, said one of her priorities in “The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland” was to encourage politicians in Washington to work together “in this day of Trump and this day of not exactly civil discourse.”
She called it the anti-Trump book as she laced it with funny stories about people getting along, although she touched on serious topics such as her well-known father’s alcoholism. She also went after controversial Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and money in politics.
Klobuchar has become one of the Senate’s most-sought speakers at Democratic events across the country, including recent stops in Nebraska and Louisiana. President Barack Obama called her “Minnesota’s funniest senator,” even though the state’s voters also sent comedian Al Franken to Washington.
The book was written entirely on an iPad in airplanes, at coffee shops and wherever Klobuchar could find some time. It helps, she said, that “I only sleep like five hours a night.”
The 55-year-old senator said she has kept notes for years.
Many, if not most, politicians who write memoirs do so because they are seeking higher office, such as president. Klobuchar often has been mentioned as a presidential, vice presidential or Supreme Court possibility, but during a Forum News Service interview she denied that as a motive.
“I like to write,” she said.
Unlike other politicians, she added, she did not employ a ghost writer. She did all the work herself.
The Democrat long has talked about working with Republicans to get things done, and talked more about them than Democrats when her party’s convention endorsed her for a second term.
On Page 273 of her 344-page book, she talks about her close relationship with Sen. John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican who took her to see the oil boom in the western part of his state.
When the pair later appeared at a Minneapolis distracted-driving event, she wrote, “I knew things were going to bit too far on the Klobuchar-Hoeven bipartisan scale … (when) we were asked to tie ‘friendship bracelets’ on each other’s wrists and pledge to take care of each other for the rest of our lives. We did it.”
In an interview, Hoeven gave examples of cooperation in a recently passed Senate bill. She co-sponsored his drivers’ privacy provision and he co-sponsored her distracted driving measure. They also co-sponsored a bill to aid science, technology, engineering and math education.
Both senators say that is an example that could be followed by others in Washington.
“I think she is trying to foster more bipartisanship,” Hoeven said after calling Klobuchar to congratulate her on her book. “She tries to take a positive tone and … be solution oriented.”
In the book, Klobuchar provides examples of “how people come together and pass legislation.”
Klobuchar said that “The Senator Next Door” title was meant, in part, to encourage politicians to treat others like their neighbors. “You have to look for things you can talk about.”
In her prologue, Klobuchar wrote that as she got publicity as Hennepin County attorney and U.S. senator, many people used to think she was a neighbor, even if they live far apart.
“As the years went on, I figured out it was much easier if I just answered, ‘I don’t exactly live on your block, but you can always think of me as the senator next door,'” she wrote.
Klobuchar said she wrote the book in part to convince average people they can be active in politics. Coming from Iron Range roots and suburban upbringing, with little money when she was young, parents who divorced and a father who was an alcoholic and a Star Tribune sports columnist, Klobuchar’s goal was to get more people involved.
With Klobuchar, humor seldom is far away. In the interview, Klobuchar recounted one of her favorite stories in her best southern accent. It was about when she and Franken boarded a plane and a flight attendant announced: “We have some celebrities on the plane, Mr. and Mrs. Al Franken.”
Franken tried to correct the attendant. “No, no. She’s the other senator from Minnesota.”
To that, the attendant responded: “Oh, my. How cool is that? Husband and wife senators.”