Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar "struck a forceful tone" at Thursday's Democratic primary debate, tangling with rival Pete Buttigieg as she sought to once again make the case that a Midwestern moderate will have the best shot at defeating President Donald Trump next November.
The stakes for Klobuchar, trailing the top tier in fifth place in the polls with just six weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, were higher than ever.
So how'd she do? The Star Tribune's Patrick Condon reports that the debate in Los Angeles marked "her most confident debate performance to date." It also garnered some of her best reviews so far.
Here's what political journalists and pundits are saying about the Minnesota Democrat's time on the stage:
Rankings published by several major outlets, including USA Today, put Klobuchar in the "winners" column.
"Klobuchar strategically acted as a peacekeeper a few times Thursday, touting her Midwestern roots by stopping a few word-battles between other candidates on stage with a, 'come on, you guys.' She then seamlessly dovetailed into her own stance on the issue."
CNN's Chris Cillizza called it an "excellent debate performance when Klobuchar really needed one."
"The Minnesota senator benefited the most from the smaller number of candidates on stage. She got to talk a LOT more than in past debates and used that time very, very well," Cillizza wrote. "Time and time again in answer after answer, Klobuchar drove home her basic message: I'm from the Midwest. I'm a woman. I get things done."
At Fox News, analyst Mary Anne Marsh wrote that Klobuchar "delivered another solid performance with her signature lines, sharp points, and humor … that will help her with some voters."
"While Klobuchar has been making slow, steady point by point progress in the polls but with just 45 days to go until the Iowa Caucuses it's not enough to get her in the top tier. But, she was a substantial presence in the debate on Thursday night," Marsh wrote.
Klobuchar also scored 7.1 out of 10 — tying Sen. Bernie Sanders for the highest score of any candidate — in a ranking by New York Times Opinion writers, though the individual reviews were mixed:
"Virtually flawless debate. She attacked effectively and came off as confident, experienced and presidential — and, yes, likable, something we're told isn't possible for female candidates but that she proved actually is." — Liz Mair
"She's getting better, but still sounds too much like a senator and not a president. She doesn't need to mention all that legislation. Stay big." — David Leonhardt
"Effectively presented herself as a unifier who can win elections, jousting with good cheer and optimism." — Nicholas Kristof
"She relied on platitudes and has yet to appear presidential in the slightest." — Bianca Vivion Brooks
Politico called the performance her "best yet," concluding it "appeared that Amy Klobuchar might have a chance."
"For months, the Minnesota senator has languished in public opinion polls outside of the top tier — an ineffectual moderate alternative to Joe Biden. But in one night, she was commanding a second look, and marking a late, sharp-elbowed turn in her campaign."
Torey Van Oot • 651-925-5049