Strong performances in past debates have helped elevate her profile, winning over undecided voters and campaign donors. But the Minnesota Democrat spent much of Wednesday night fending off intense scrutiny and attacks from rivals, as she sought to recover from recent stumbles on the trail and sparred with former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Here's a look at what people are saying about Klobuchar's performance in the latest debate, with just days to go until the Nevada caucuses:
CNN's Chris Cillizza put her in the losers bracket, saying it was "not her night."
"Klobuchar's authenticity has been at the center of her rise of late but it all seemed too hokey and too forced this time around. Klobuchar had to know she was going to get a question about why she couldn't remember the name of the Mexican President, but she still had to look down at her notes to get the name right."
Aaron Blake at the Washington Post gave a "losers" rating, too. He wrote that Klobuchar "seemed desperate and less-prepared at times."
"She tried to recite other trivia about foreign leaders but stumbled, appeared to check her notes, and mustered only a last name for another Latin American president...It was just one moment, but it wasn’t good. She also repeatedly got caught in personal back-and-forths with Buttigieg, despite neither of them being in a great position in national polls. Klobuchar needed more given where she is in this race."
She got mixed reviews from New York Times opinion writers, receiving an average score of 6 out of 10.
"After winning the New Hampshire debate with her bold, energetic performance, Klobuchar was brought down by her gaffe of forgetting Mexican President López Obrador’s name. Buttigeg exploited it all night long. She fought back, hiding rage behind a smile, but she was clearly rattled." - Wajahat Ali
"She has a winning combination of resilience and vulnerability, intellect and likability." - Bret Stephens
"She came off as temperamentally ill-suited to take on Trump or serve as president. She’s a legislator out of her league." - Daniel McCarthy.
Fox News analyst Mary Anne Marsh agreed that Klobuchar failed to deliver the same caliber performance that catapulted her into the top tier days before the New Hampshire vote:
"We saw the Klobuchar of previous debates rather than the star performer of the last debate that gave her the momentum and most undecided voters in the last 72 hours of the New Hampshire primary campaign. Klobuchar’s challenge will be to convince Nevada voters and a national audience that her performance wasn’t a one-hit-wonder."
USA Today wrote about her effort to "keep that momentum" from her New Hampshire finish.
"The Minnesota Senator, who has leaned into snappy one-liners on previous debate stages, continued that habit Wednesday...But Klobuchar also threw a couple punches of her, often sparring with Buttigieg, who holds the lead in national delegates."
The National Review's Jim Geraghty saw Klobuchar playing a key role in what he called a "Glorious Wrestlemania of a Democratic Debate."
"Klobuchar seemed to keep getting entangled in fights with Buttigieg, and the exchanges revealed that she cannot stand him. Her late sarcastic declaration — “I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete” — dripped with contempt."
Many debate watchers picked up on those tensions between Klobuchar and Buttigieg:
"For months frustration and resentment have swelled between Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. The bad vibes burst open big time during Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, a night when each candidate was eager to be rid of the other as quickly as possible." - BuzzFeed News.
Some Minnesotans meanwhile, didn't appreciate a Buttigieg swipe that name-checked former Vice President Walter Mondale: "If winning the race for Senate in Minnesota translated directly to becoming president, I would have grown up under the presidency of Walter Mondale."
What did you think about Klobuchar's debate performance? Share your take in the comments field below: