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Klobuchar trumpets her work with GOP

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ROCHESTER, Minn. -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar stood in front of 1,100 mostly liberal Democrats concerned if she talked too much about working with Republicans.

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"I was wondering how this is going to go over," she said in an interview after Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Laborites unanimously endorsed her for a second six-year Senate term.

In the interview, it became obvious that bipartisanship will be part of her campaign against a conservative Republican.

The 52-year-old former prosecutor accepted the party's endorsement, the only person nominated, in a speech that did not mention her presumed Republican opponent, state Rep. Kurt Bills of Rosemount. Instead, she rattled off her accomplishments, often telling the partisan crowd that she works with Republicans on issues.

A fact sheet her campaign handed out listing 100 accomplishments began with two in which she shared credit with Republicans: gaining funding for replacing the collapsed Interstate 35W bridge with Sen. Norm Coleman and restoring benefits to National Guard members with Rep. John Kline.

"I'm not sure he has a record of working across the aisle," she said of Bills, a first-term legislator who says he will take his high school economic teaching background and educate Washington.

"When it makes sense to cross the aisle, I do," she told delegates, receiving mild applause.

Klobuchar would not talk much about Bills, but promised to take him on in debates before the Nov. 6 election. Rather, the senator used her time talking about helping Minnesotans.

While Republicans often criticized Klobuchar during their convention two weeks ago, Democrats used their time to talk about Klobuchar, but did not mention Bills.

"Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been on the front lines working hard in Washington to defend the interests of the middle class and all Minnesotans," DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said.

He talked about Klobuchar's work to keep student debt down, helping veterans and improving health care.

Even Martin praised her for working with Republicans.

The senator reminded delegates that they first endorsed her in the same Mayo Civic Center six years ago. She talked about some of the things she has done, ranging from helping place sandbags in Moorhead to being on hand as Wadena recovered from tornado damage.

Those, like other issues, were bipartisan. She talked about a farm bill due for a vote in coming weeks, which does not have complete Democratic support.

She lobbed missiles at both sides, calling Washington a "TV shoutfest." She compared the nation's capital to "a big, bad reality TV show."

Klobuchar frequently is mentioned as a potential candidate for the White House or for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, but in an interview would not talk about that, other than admit that occasionally someone bring up the topic.

The New York Times has called her one of the 17 women most likely to become president and Elle magazine ran a headline proclaiming: "Meet the woman who ... many say should be pointing her ambition at the White House,"

Klobuchar has earned a Washington reputation as a good, and funny, speaker. She is well-known nationally among Democrats and her poll numbers are high in Minnesota.

She was elected six years ago, easily beating then-U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy. That followed two terms as Hennepin County attorney and time in two prominent Twin Cities law firms.

Klobuchar's husband, John Bessler, is a University of Baltimore law professor. Their daughter, Abigail, is a high school junior.

Klobuchar likes to tout her family roots in the Iron Range, where her grandfather was a miner. Her father, Jim, was a prominent sports columnist and her mother a teacher.

Before her fist election, Klobuchar led a successful effort to get the Minnesota Legislature to pass one of the country's first laws to guarantee 48-hour hospital stays for new mothers and their babies.

Klobuchar, who lives in Plymouth, was valedictorian of her Wayzata High School class and graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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