Klobuchar downplays differences among Democrats in first debate

Klobuchar downplays Democratic differences after first debate

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar downplayed concerns that many of the other 24 Democrats vying for the presidential nomination are embracing progressive policy proposals that may alienate some voters and push moderates like herself away from the party in 2020. 

"I think there's room in our party for a legitimate debate," she said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "I just think it's important to realize there's a lot more that unifies us than separates [us], that there's a lot more that unifies us than there is that divides us."

Klobuchar was asked specifically about the two nights of the first Democratic debate in Miami, in which the more progressive candidates on stage dominated the conversation, vowing to implement sweeping liberal policies on immigration, health care and climate change and cast aside more incremental, pragmatic approaches touted by previous candidates like Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. 

Current contenders like Julián Castro and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders pledged to decriminalize illegal border crossings and enact single-payer health care systems that cover undocumented immigrants, and under Sanders' plan, that effectively shutter the private health insurance system. 

Klobuchar conceded there's a "legitimate policy argument" among the largest Democratic primary field in U.S. history. She said she supports bold proposals to create a "Medicare for All" system and make college more affordable, but that her plans to enact such changes differ from those of other contenders. 

"I want universal health care, I just got a different way to get there," she said. "And as I said in the debate, I don't think that we should take away people's right to their private insurance and kick half of America off of their private insurance."

However, Klobuchar stressed that all candidates should be focused on their foremost priority: thwarting President Trump's reelection bid next year. 

The Minnesota Democrat said the great political divide that exists right now in the country is not between Democrats, but between the American public and the president, who she accused of failing to keep his word on campaign pledges. 

"He promised them pharmaceutical prices going down, they've gone up. He promised them infrastructure, he has done nothing. He promised them a safer world when he got out of the Iranian agreement. It is not safer," Klobuchar said. "That's the case we need to make."

  • Camilo Montoya-Galvez
    Camilo Montoya-Galvez On Twitter»

    Camilo Montoya-Galvez is the immigration reporter at CBS News. Based in Washington, he covers immigration policy and politics. Twitter: @camiloreports