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Sen. Amy Klobuchar slams Trump's dealmaking, talks foreign policy

Iran to breach limits of nuclear deal

Scouring for ways to pit herself against President Trump, 2020 contender Sen. Amy Klobuchar ran down a list of foreign policy deals and debacles she would negotiate differently — Iran, China, Israel, North Korea and Russia — just to start. 

In an exclusive interview with CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga on Sunday, the former criminal prosecutor took the president to task.

Addressing the Iran Deal, the Minnesota Democrat drew a line between Mr. Trump's decision to leave the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran's recent uranium enrichment levels, breaching previously agreed upon limits.

"We finally achieved at least a long-term plan where they were not going to enrich your uranium to the degree that they were. They were going to get rid of a number of these facilities, and by all inspections, that was happening," Klobuchar exclaimed, "And what does this guy do? What did President Trump do? He comes in and says I can make you a better deal, I can make you more safe."

The Minnesota lawmaker paused. "Well guess what? As of today, we are less safe." Klobuchar added, "Iran is blowing through the caps. They are going to start enriching uranium at a level that could lead to nuclear weapons, and it is much less safe than we were when [Mr. Trump] came in as president."

The senator noted she would re-negotiate the United States back into the Iran nuclear agreement as well as rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Paris climate agreement — all international bodies the Trump administration abandoned under the banner of "America First."

In stump speeches, Klobuchar recited her initial hope that President Trump would push an infrastructure bill through Congress instead of participating in what she calls "showmanship."

Speaking with CBS News, the senator shook her head as she recalled the president's recent meeting in the Korean Demilitarized Zone with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "He likes going for a photo op with Kim Jong Un, looking like he could bring a hot dish over the fence for dinner next door," she quipped.

It is this combination of focus and humor the Klobuchar campaign hopes will resonate with independent voters balancing "first-in-the-nation" sensibility with a "live free or die" mentality. The candidate argues that the battleground state of New Hampshire shares similarities with her Minnesota home. Klobuchar pitched that relatability at several stops in the swing-voter territories of Coos and Carroll County.

Amy Klobuchar CBS News interview
Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota speaking to CBS News on Sun., July 7, 2019. CBS News

"This is going to be a close primary with a number of candidates and I want to be everywhere. And yes, it does remind me a lot of northern Minnesota," the senator said.

"Maybe they have a few more mountains here — that's the only change," Klobuchar smiled, adding that both sections of voters care about similar, "rural issues like broadband and phone service and making sure we have a clean environment and different infrastructure needs than other parts of the country do."

Yet New Hampshire voters also worry about issues falling outside of state lines and raised questions about Israeli settlements and Russian election interference at campaign stops dotting townships from Amherst to Lancaster. When one voter asked about U.S. relations with Cuba at Tuckerman Brewery in Conway, the Minnesotan senator delighted.

"Cuba!" she exclaimed. "You're the first person since I ran for president to ask. I was hoping it would come up in the debate, since we were in Miami," Klobuchar noted, adding that she leads the bill to lift the Cuba trade embargo, along with Republican Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

"We've always liked the genuineness of Amy," Joni Herrick said over a beer at Tuckerman Brewery, after running down a list of issues she hopes the next president will address. "But like, we just want a candidate that is going to take Trump down."

As the photo line dwindled at house parties and breweries across the Granite State, voters lingered behind the candidate's departure to reflect on her stump speech. Words like "electability," "humor" and "tough" surfaced in conversations that began with policy issues and typically evolved into visualizing the senator standing onstage next Mr. Trump.

"Who is going to lead this country the most effectively?" Former high school principal Marcy Mager volunteered at a house party in Wolfeboro. "Who is going to bring us back into our alliances with Europe? Who is going to restore our position of sanity around the world?"

Foreign policy and taking Mr. Trump down found a large audience during the first round of Democratic debates in Miami last month. "I don't think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at five o'clock in the morning, which is what he does," Klobuchar inserted, when asked if the Iran nuclear pact proved a "good deal."

The senator introduced the one-liner into her regular stump speeches, telling voters at a Fourth of July house party in Amherst, "I think you know how important it is to stand up to dictators." The senior United States Senator added, "Those decisions are not made at 5 a.m. in a bathrobe." The audience chuckled.

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