LAS VEGAS (AP) — Amy Klobuchar acknowledged in Las Vegas on Saturday that she has work to do winning over Nevada voters, but she said she's going to make the early state a major priority as its Feb. 22 presidential caucuses loom closer.
"I am aware that I am not as well known as some of the other candidates in this race, especially in this state," she told reporters. "I need to get out there. That's what we're doing today."
The Democratic presidential candidate gave a speech in west Las Vegas Saturday afternoon, as about 200 people stood in a chilly courtyard near her first campaign office in the state, wearing green "Amy" stickers.
The Minnesota senator, who joked that the weather for her "was like the warmest day ever," told the crowd that she plans to open more offices soon as she grows her operation from a flush of donations that followed strong debate performances.
Klobuchar also continued to stake herself out as a pragmatic alternative to her more liberal opponents, someone who can win over moderates and even some former supporters of President Donald Trump.
"As we march into this election, I want us to remember some very profound advice that I'll leave you with: We better not screw this up," Klobuchar said. "We better put someone at the top of the ticket that can bring people with her and not shut them out."
She told the crowd that she can't wait to take on Trump on the debate stage.
"I think you saw the debates — I will be able to handle him," she said.
Klobuchar reported this week her best fundraising quarter of her campaign, taking in $11.4 million over the last three months of 2019. Her campaign has attributed that to her standout performances in recent debates. The fundraising growth has allowed her to add to her staff in Iowa and New Hampshire and open offices in Nevada and South Carolina.
Before this weekend, Klobuchar's campaigning in Nevada has been light. She made her first stop on this weekend's visit to rural Democrats in Minden, about an hour south of Reno, before holding a meet-and-greet at a bookstore in Reno and the event in Las Vegas.
Klobuchar told reporters she thinks she can make her case to Nevada by highlighting her appeal in rural areas, and in a nod to the state's immigrant communities and heavy Latino population, her work in the U.S. Senate to try to pass a reform of the country's immigration laws. She also pointed to her role co-chairing the Senate's tourism caucus, which pushed for the recent re-authorization of a program promoting places like Las Vegas to potential tourists in other countries.
She said she plans to return to Las Vegas next weekend if the U.S. Senate has not started its impeachment trial of the president.
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