Had you walked into Barnes and Noble St. Cloud on Monday afternoon, you would have been met with rows of empty folding chairs and a table filled with stacks of carefully aligned books. The tidy scene was in preparation for the visit of US Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the first woman to be elected to represent Minnesota in the US Senate, and author of a new memoir, “The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland.”
Sen. Klobuchar arrived at the book store at 7 p.m. and spent the following hour reading excerpts from her memoir and sharing stories about rubbing shoulders with the likes of President Barack Obama, Walter Mondale and the late former Sen. Paul Wellstone. Often noted for her sharp sense of humor, Sen. Klobuchar’s stories kept the crowd laughing throughout the reading.
Sen. Klobuchar started off the readings by sharing a story about her father, a former political journalist, who covered the presidential race between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy. She then talked about her “first political experience,” raising money for the high school prom, the details of which had the crowd roaring with laughter.
The mood turned somber as Sen. Klobuchar next shared about her memories of working with Sen. Paul Wellstone and of the memorial service held for him after the tragic plane crash that took his life.
One thing that Sen. Klobuchar made clear in her book and in her presentation was that she feels very strongly about Congress needing to put aside partisan politics and work more collaboratively on legislation. She said this was one of the reasons she wrote the memoir.
“Part of the theme of this book is about trying to find compromise,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “There is something left of our democracy, and it’s our duty to foster it; that’s why I wrote the book.”
She talked about working across the aisle with Republicans that she has “come to love to work with.” One of these Republicans is Sen. John McCain, whom Sen. Klobuchar referred to as a “mentor.”
Sen. Klobuchar was in the national spotlight earlier this month, when she appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to discuss her memoir and the need for more women in Congress.
“A woman senator led the end of the shutdown; a woman senator led the budget; a woman senator led the Farm Bill; just think of what we could do, Stephen, if we had 50 percent,” said Sen. Klobuchar, referring to the kind of female representation she’d like to see in Congress.
Referring to the title of her memoir, Colbert asked Sen. Klobuchar, “Who is the senator next door, and can I come over and borrow a cup of sugar?”
“Anytime,” laughed Sen. Klobuchar. “I think the point I’m making with this title,” she continued, “is that we have to bring some neighborliness to the United States Senate–that we have to bring the values of representing your neighbors, and a lot of that has been lost.”
For many of the attendees of Monday night’s reading, having a representative they can relate to is important.
Karen Petron-Broda, who attended the event, cited Sen. Klobuchar’s relatable nature as one of the main reason’s she came to the reading.
“It’s important to have representation that feels like a neighbor,” Petron-Broda said. “That’s how I see her… I am proud that [Klobuchar] is a representative of my state.”
“I am encouraged by people like her, who just do what’s right without glitz, glamour and show,” said Barb Nelson, who attended the event. Nelson said she was also encouraged to see a senator willing to work with members of Congress from a different party.
“I love the way she works across aisles,” said Nelson. “Our congress is struggling with that.”