Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota gave a fiery response at Friday’s debate to one of the most common lines of any presidential campaign: that voters want a new face, not a symbol of the old ways of Washington.
On this particular night, the line came from former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., who said — in response to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s argument, citing achievements like the Violence Against Women Act, that “the politics of the past were not all that bad” — that those achievements met the challenges of a different moment than the current one.
Ms. Klobuchar challenged the premise of Mr. Buttigieg’s argument, saying it was easy for people outside Washington to bash it when they did not have to fulfill the responsibilities that people inside did.
Here is a transcript of the exchange:
BUTTIGIEG: Those achievements were phenomenally important — because they met the moment. But now we have to meet this moment. And this moment is different. The next president is going to face challenges from global health security, like what we’re seeing coming out of China, to cybersecurity and election security challenges that were barely thought of a few years ago. And here at home, we’re seeing things like gig work transform what it means to be a worker in America in ways that were barely conceived of that long ago.
We cannot solve the problems before us by looking back. We have to be ready to turn the page and change our politics before it’s too late. And I’m seeing everywhere I go not just fellow Democrats, but a striking number of independents and what I like to call future former Republicans, ready to join in that historic American majority to turn the page.
KLOBUCHAR: I am listening to this about meeting the moment, and my first thought is, I’m a fresh face up here for a presidential debate. And I figure, Pete, that 59 — my age — is the new 38 up here.
The second thing I think about is this: And that is meeting the moment. We had a moment the last few weeks, Mayor, and that moment was these impeachment hearings. And there was a lot of courage that you saw from only a few people. There was courage from Doug Jones, our friend from Alabama, who took that tough vote. There was courage from Mitt Romney, who took a very, very difficult vote. There was courage, as I read today, about Lt. Col. Vindman being escorted out of the White House. What he did took courage.
But what you said, Pete, as you were campaigning through Iowa, as three of us were jurors in that impeachment hearing — you said it was exhausting to watch and that you wanted to turn the channel and watch cartoons.
It is easy to go after Washington because that’s a popular thing to do. It is much harder — as I see Senator Shaheen, in the front row, such a leader — it is much harder to lead, and much harder to take those difficult positions. Because I think this going after every single thing that people do, because it’s popular to say and makes you look like a cool newcomer — I just, I don’t think that’s what people want right now.
We have a newcomer in the White House, and look where it got us. I think having some experience is a good thing.