Lebanon, N.H.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., packed the house a few days ago at a campaign appearance in New Hampshire. She was great.

My wife, Sandi, and I were at lunch in nearby South Royalton, Vermont. We saw a newspaper brief announcing Klobuchar would be in New Hampshire later that day. We drove over; we expected a small crowd. After all, the senator was not among top-polling candidates in the tussle for the Democratic nomination for president. We were wrong.

In a community center that was set up for 100 people, more than 300 made for standing room only. They were not only supporters, but also curious New Hampshire primary voters. By the time Klobuchar wrapped up over an hour with the mic, she’d won over nearly everyone in the room.

Disclaimer: I’m a fan. After seeing the senator in action, so is Sandi. I met Klobuchar when she first ran for the U.S. Senate against then-Congressman Mark Kennedy. (Yes, that Mark Kennedy, who, as the mercifully short-term president of the University of North Dakota made the State Board of Higher Education look like pillocks.) I moderated the final debate of the 2006 campaign at Concordia College in Moorhead. Klobuchar had a good night; Kennedy did not. Some analysts said the debate sealed her win. She never looked back. In fact, in her 2018 re-election for a third term, she won all over the state, including most of the counties that voted for Donald Trump.

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One of the raps on Klobuchar is that she is not as energetic as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, or as sharp-tongued as Sen. Kamala Harris of California, or as emotive as Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. What a crock.

In person, the senator was animated and informed. She communicated her priorities and solutions in clear, no-nonsense terms. Ambiguity was not in her tool kit. Her criticism of the president’s policies was fact-based. She is disgusted by his behavior. She skewered him with intelligent critiques and artful jabs.

Effusive, humorous and on message, the idea that Klobuchar’s charisma quotient is low is nonsensical. The room felt her passion, patriotism and commitment to the nation’s constitutional mandate. We listened to one of the most complete and thoughtful platforms — health care, the economy, voter rights, national defense, immigration — of any candidate on the crowded presidential stage.

Klobuchar is smart and tough. Her Senate record is outstanding. She is not intimidated by the bully in the White House. As a former prosecutor, she knows criminal conduct when she sees it. She has the stuff to pummel Trump in debates, and further expose him as the imposter he is. The more Klobuchar does face-to-face campaigning in early primary and caucus states, the more voters will see that she is ready right now to take on Trump and his corrupt sycophants. She knows how to do it.

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At the rally, she said eking out a win next November is not enough. “We must win big!” she said. “The presidency, the House and flip the Senate.” With Klobuchar at the top of the ballot, winning big is a good bet.

Zaleski retired in 2017 after 30 years as The Forum’s editorial page editor. Contact him at jzaleski@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5521 or 701-566-3576.