Sen. Amy Klobuchar expected to join widening presidential field

Feb 10 (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar is expected to enter the 2020 presidential race on Sunday, becoming the first moderate in an increasingly crowded field of Democrats vying to challenge Republican President Donald Trump.

Klobuchar, 58, now in her third six-year term as a senator for Minnesota, will seek to position herself as a contrast to Trump, who is expected to be the Republican candidate in the November 2020 election, focusing on both policy differences but also style and tact.

A former prosecutor and corporate attorney, Klobuchar joins a list of Democratic hopefuls that includes fellow Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Warren heads to Iowa to campaign on Sunday after formally launching her bid on Saturday. Booker is also spending the weekend in the Midwestern farm state.

RELATED: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar throughout her political career

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Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar throughout her political career
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Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar throughout her political career
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, conducts a hearing on "pay-for-delay" deals between pharmaceutical companies and their generic drug competitors, which critics say keep cheaper forms of medicine off the market, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 23, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Hennepin County, Minn., Attorney Amy Klobuchar and President Clinton look on in the East Room of the White House Tuesday April 25, 2000, as Attorney General Janet Reno discussed reviving stalled hate-crimes legislation. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, left, and prosecutor Alan Harris talk with reporters, Thursday, April 3, 2003, in Minneapolis after former Minnesota Twins play Kirby Puckett was found not guilty in the alleged sexual assault of a woman in a restaurant bathroom last September. (AP Photo/bill alkofer)
UNITED STATES - JULY 11: Candidate Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - Nov. 08: Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., looks at a chart from Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., a member of the agriculture panel and chair of the Senate Budget Committee, during a news conference on the farm program reauthorization bill. Senate progress on the $288 billion measure to renew farm programs ground to a halt Nov. 6 as Democrats and Republicans clashed over which amendments can be offered. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly)
Washington, UNITED STATES: US Senator Barbara Boxer (L), D-CA, and Senator-elect Amy Klobuchar (R), D-MN, walk past a group of photographers as they arrive for a bipartisan Senate Women Power Workshop at the office of Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-MD, 14 November 2006 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
From left, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., react as they are acknowledged by President Barack Obama, Friday, June 1, 2012, at Honeywell in Golden Valley , Minn. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 13: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., second from right, poses for a photo opp with Democratic Senators-elect. Reid will take over as Majority Leader when the 110th Congress begins in January 2007. LEFT TO RIGHT: James Webb, D-Va., Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Reid, and Jon Tester, D-Mont. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 25: Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator from Minnesota, waves to the crowd after speaking during day one of the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 25, 2008. The DNC will be held from Aug. 25-28. (Photo by Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - June 12: At a news conference on oil dependence and global warming, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., checks out a Miles ZX405, an all-electric vehicle produced by Miles Electric Vehicles. The company was founded in 2004 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Miles Rubin. The ZX405 is capable of 25mph and has a range of 40-50 miles. Miles Electric Vehicles is owned by Miles Automotive Group, Ltd, and headquartered at the historic Santa Monica Airport in Santa Monica, CA. (photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
Accompanied by Senators Linsey Graham (L) and Amy Klobuchar (R), US Senator John McCain (C) answers questions during a press conference at the US embassy in Tokyo on April 10, 2009. The three senators are here to exchange views with Japanese officials. AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. are seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, prior to the start of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., left, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., right, and Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., second from right, leave the Senate chamber as the leadership negotiates a solution to the "fiscal cliff," the automatic tax increases and deep spending cuts that could kick in Jan. 1., at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 26: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) walks on stage to deliver remarks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party's nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 15: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) listens to testimony during the confirmation hearing of U.S. Attorney General nominee William Barr January 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. Barr, who previously served as Attorney General under President George H. W. Bush, was confronted about his views on the investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Klobuchar’s campaign announcement comes amid several news reports that staff in her Senate office were asked to do menial tasks, including some personal in nature like laundry, making it difficult for her to hire high-level campaign strategists

Klobuchar gained national attention in 2018 when she sparred with Brett Kavanaugh during Senate hearings on his Supreme Court nomination. Her questions earned her recognition in Democratic circles for working to advance the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault.

But the senator will have work to do to build a national profile. She barely registers in early opinion polls of potential Democratic candidates.

Klobuchar hopes her moderate policies and strong electoral record in Minnesota will help her win back states Trump took from Democrats in the 2016 White House contest, including nearby Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, Wisconsin, as well as Pennsylvania.

Klobuchar has focused her legislative efforts on issues like antitrust oversight, agriculture and voter security. Recently, she pushed for Senate investigations into whether Facebook Inc broke the law when it resisted oversight on how Russians used its platform to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

She has been measured in her criticism of Trump, attacking the effects of his trade tariffs on farmers but avoiding more explosive issues like immigration and gun control.

Klobuchar won her most recent Senate race in November with more than 60 percent of the vote. But she raised only about $7.4 million, a relatively small amount compared with Senate candidates in more competitive races. She will need to raise millions more to be a competitive presidential candidate.

Klobuchar is expected to focus her early presidential campaign efforts on Iowa, which borders Minnesota and holds the nation’s first nominating contest.

An aggressive focus on Iowa and a win there in 2008 helped catapult Barack Obama from underdog status to the Democratic Party's nomination and eventual victory in that year's presidential election.

Klobuchar began her foray into Minnesota politics by advocating for better access to healthcare for babies and new mothers after her own daughter was born with health complications, a personal narrative she is likely to use in the debate about the future of the nation’s healthcare system.

Klobuchar has not endorsed universal healthcare, an issue that will be heavily debated during the Democratic nominating race and could distinguish her from more liberal candidates who favor it.

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson. Additional reporting by Amanda Becker in Iowa City, Iowa.)

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