Remarks at the National Press Club

July 16, 2019

Well thank you so much, Alison. It's great to be back. I came in late last night from Iowa. I don't know why I was there, but I was. And thank you to the National Press Club for hosting me. I've been here several times before, including as the keynote speaker for the event commemorating the election of your new Press Club president at the time, Alan Bjerga, a Minnesotan.

And I remember three things well about that event.

First, it was in the middle of some really bad D.C. weather and somehow I made it in for the speech in the middle of that snowstorm, which is not new for me. But I didn't have 4 inches of snow on top of my head.

Second, the musical entertainment was Bob Schieffer playing with the local country western band Honky Tonk Confidential.

And third, in my talk—which was a humorous speech—I noted that Bjerga was ushering in a new era: Press Club presidents who were not only outstanding journalists but whose name—in this case Alan B-J-E-R-G-A if played right, garnered more than 160 points on the Scrabble board. For the record, you may be surprised to know that in Scrabble the name Amy Klobuchar actually scores more points than Pete Buttigieg, not that I'm competitive, but it is 28 to 19. There's an app for it, you can check it out.

So on to the first 100 days.

Now that phrase, 100 days, has become ubiquitous in presidential politics.

Generations of candidates have made promises about what they'll do in that time frame.

Generations of journalists have conducted analyses about what actually got done during that time frame.

But sometimes, I think, we forget about where that concept came to begin with.

It was Franklin Roosevelt.

So we all know why those first 100 days were so important back then.

In 1933, there was of course a crisis.

But it wasn't just a crisis of economics. It was also a crisis of confidence. A crisis of trust.

Because FDR was well aware that when he was sworn in as President, people had lost their trust in the government. And they didn't think the government would come through for them...they didn't think that Washington would make things better for them.

FDR was determined to earn back their trust. Right away he laid out a bold plan to take on the crisis of his time. He got that as a leader you have to set a new tone, a new sense of leadership, as well as advocate long-term changes. He foresaw that the people needed to move forward for the long haul but that they also needed to see a change in the short-term right away to even start considering the end of the year, or the end of two years after that.

He had to convince the nation that the government had their backs and that there was hope.

Today, we need a new 100-day plan for America.

This time it's not only about long-term economics and how so many people aren't sharing in our economy's prosperity. It's also about our very democracy. It's about common decency. It's about how we govern and how we treat each other.

Because when parents don't want to show their kids what the President is saying on television because it's just too embarrassing, or not appropriate, we lose confidence.

When the President is asked about Russia's attack on our democracy, and he turns to a ruthless dictator—Vladimir Putin—and makes a joke about it, we lose confidence.

And as we gather in this room, where we don't just tolerate the First Amendment, where we embrace it, when we have a President who wakes up and tweets whatever he wants every morning—including this morning—but still doesn't respect the amendment that allows him to do it—calling journalists the "enemy of the people"—well then we lose confidence.

When the President sends reprehensible and racist tweets telling American citizens serving in the Congress—people who were elected to serve their nation—to go back to other countries, yes, we lose confidence.

You see, all of this tears at the fabric of our country and weakens the institutions that have made America, America.

And this is not just about the rhetoric. The president has used the power of the Presidency to advance a mean-spirited agenda, sometimes to invigorate his base at the cost of sound policy, sometimes to distract the country just for the sake of making news and controlling the day's press coverage.

We saw it when he tried to add a citizenship question to the Census in an effort to undercount immigrants and people of color. Even though the courts repeatedly said it was wrong, he—as they say—persevered and while he ultimately failed, he managed to get a whole lot of press coverage in the meantime.

We saw it when he cut funding for Planned Parenthood and put women's health at risk.

We saw it when he proposed cuts in funding for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and programs that help Americans afford their heat in the winter.

We saw it when he tried to kick DREAMers out of this country when it's the only country that they've ever called home. We saw it with the threats of the raids this past weekend.

We see it every day when he tells outlandish untruth — now 10,000 and counting. Broken promises littering the Oval Office carpet, while cash-strapped Americans wait for their prescription drug price reductions, wait for their rural broadband, wait for their educations.

Today, right now, we can start earning back the people's trust. We can start restoring people's confidence in our democracy.

To do this, yes, we need legislative marathons — like passing climate change legislation, a major infrastructure bill, health care cost reductions and economic relief for regular people—all of which I believe can be done in the first year—but we also need sprints.

Why? Because just like FDR understood years ago, you need to regain both the trust in, and the spirit of our democracy immediately—those are the sprints—both in words and in actions—to get people on board for the marathon in the long haul.

Now I don't run marathons and I am not a big sprinter either. You'd have to look at other candidates for that. But I am really good at long distance bike riding and long hikes, and as I proved this weekend in Ankeny, Iowa, really long parades.

When you do these long treks, you know that you wake up early in the morning and you get a lot of miles behind you, before it really gets too hot and the sun gets too high in the sky and before you get too tired.

That's what this is about. Setting a new tone that the currency of our democracy will once again be that of decency, and that our nation will be grounded in hope.

Because as you know, this nation—this grand experiment in democracy—was founded on hope. It wasn't founded on false hope. It was founded on hope.

Because when our founders spoke about "a more perfect union" centuries ago, they meant that it wasn't perfect when they started, they knew that, but they believed it would become more perfect over time. And each generation of Americans has an obligation to make it more perfect, to meet the challenges of their time.

This is what I mean: when Donald Trump inherited an economy grounded in the resilience of our workers and our businesses who had led us through a really bad downturn. His obligation was to meet the challenges of his time—immigration reform, climate change, doing something to advance workforce training, doing something to make for more shared prosperity, to make our country stronger. To reduce health care costs--you know what those challenges are. His obligation was not to gloat, and it was not to rest on the laurels of others.

It's something that every small business owner knows...if you develop one successful product, and it keeps you going strong, she doesn't stop there, you look for the next product for that next year, for that next decade. It's something every restaurant cook knows when he comes up with a new recipe, and it's something every parent whose child comes home with a good report card knows—you don't say, "Wow you did so great for a fourth grader and now I don't have to worry about you for fifteen years." No, we rise to the challenges of our time. That's what leaders do.

That is especially true of our nation, which has been a nation that always strives for a more perfect union. But we do it as a country that has been cradled in community. As a people with different but shared stories. As a place where ordinary people do extraordinary things every day.

And that's why I've announced a plan to take over 100 actions in my first 100 days as President.

Because I believe we can reverse the worst abuses of this President.

I believe we can return to the path of progress. And once again be a nation governed not by chaos but by opportunity.

And I believe we can restore confidence in our government and our democracy.

Well, first, of course we will get major bills introduced in the first 100 days. And as President, I'll make sure we get them passed. I know how to work with Congress to get the job done.

My priorities? I've mentioned many times. Climate change legislation, a major infrastructure package, comprehensive immigration reform with the very clear goal of getting it done in the first year—something both Democrats and Republicans have supported many times in the past—prescription drug legislation, legislation to reduce health care costs, and making sure that all families have a fair shot in today's economy.

I have found success in working in Congress. In the United States Senate, I have passed over 100 where I've been the lead Democrat.

But, as Roosevelt knew well, Congress is not the only way to get things done.

That's why our founders gave the President considerable authority. The next president will be the chief law enforcement officer. The commander in chief. She will be the face of our nation.

And she will have the power to act, at times, without Congress.

But let me answer your question before you ask it, daughter of reporter. And that is when I use executive power, when Congress refuses to act, I pledge to you that I will do it in a way that is consistent with the rule of law.

Because I believe, just as our founders did, in the separation of powers. Our system of checks and balances is essential.

The Trump Administration has ignored these checks and balances. Instead, Donald Trump has pursued his divisive agenda by undermining our democracy and exploiting executive power.

So my first 100 days, in that time, we will restore that balance.

But at the same time, we will not wait for Congress if we don't have to, we will move our country forward if we can, but when I act, I will respect our laws, and our democracy and our country.

The next President can and must immediately take action using the authority granted to her by law. Because in this time of crisis, we can't wait.

We can't wait when the foundations of our democracy are cracking.

We can't wait when our nation's social fabric is fraying.

And we can't wait when Americans live in fear because of who they are or what they look like or where they come from or who they love.

So yes my 100 day plan includes things that we can do right now. Without waiting on the Republican leaders.

You know, a lot of candidates have a lot of plans. Me? Well, I have big bold plans yes, but I've also given myself and our Congress and our nation deadlines. And as you all know as journalists, there's nothing better than a deadline.

Once elected I will ask that the American people join me in taking on these first 100 days with a sense of urgency. This is in fact a to-do list bigger than any post-it note on a refrigerator. But it is a list that—when completed—will help the very people that have those post-it notes on their refrigerators. And it is doable so long as I bring the country with me.

So here are just a few examples. And you can see all of these examples, which is a living, breathing document. We've been adding a few things to it along the way on our website at But here are a few examples of what you'll see from me in my first 100 days.

On day one, we will get back into the International Climate Change Agreement and restore the Clean Power Plan and work to bring back the gas mileage standards. Those are things you can do without passing a law.

We can safeguard the Affordable Care Act's protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. We'll immediately put these protections back in place, stop sabotaging the Affordable Care Act exchanges and get to work towards expanding to universal health care.

In the first 100 days I will stop the practice of "pay for delay" where big pharmaceutical companies pay off generics to keep their products off the market. Yes, a president can do that herself. And will apply for a waiver from the ban on reimporting safe drugs from other countries--yes, again, a president can do that on her own--and put forth a bill to require Medicare to negotiate prices for our seniors.

Remember, it was this President who said on Fox News that he would lower prescription drugs so much--their prices-- that it would make, "your head spin." I can tell you what has made our head spin. That is when the price of over 2,500 drugs have increased by double digits in just his first 14 months in office.

He has done nothing. He has done absolutely nothing. Nor has he pushed for major changes like the ones I've just outlined to be included in any bills.

When it comes to economics, for the middle class—as I said at the debate—it has been all foam and no beer. The solution? Let's be more aggressive first of all--and this is the big picture--about how we enforce our antitrust laws--and I have many bills that we can get done in the long term--but in that first 100 days, I can update the standards for reviewing both horizontal and vertical mergers.

Let's increase the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour--something you can do in the first 100 days--while we work to pass an increase to the federal minimum wage in year one.

Let's expand apprenticeships and put our country on the path to doubling the number of apprenticeships within four years. We know where all those job openings are, and this is one good way to fill them.

We can close the tax loopholes and encourage companies to send--to encourage companies that try to send jobs overseas to bring them back.

We can also overhaul major parts of that tax bill that just passed, the regressive parts of that tax bill. That's gonna not be able to get done in the first 100 years, but closing the tax loopholes on the companies that are putting the money overseas, that can be done in the first 100 days. We can put back in place policies aimed at addressing racial disparities in education, health care and our economy.

We can protect a woman's right to make her own decisions about her health care, and end the domestic and global gag rules and ensure funding for Planned Parenthood.

When it comes to infrastructure, I will get that bill introduced in the first 100 days and get it done by the end of the year. Both Democrats and Republicans have been waiting throughout this Administration to see a major infrastructure package.

Two years and seven months later, since the president won his election, we're still waiting. We still have bridges that are crumbling, schools without heat, faucets we can't drink from, and levees breaking apart. And yes, he said that, in front of the whole nation, on election night--that he was going to fix that.

And let's get another win for our economy by passing comprehensive immigration reform in the first year and immediately--in the first 100 days--ending separation of kids and their parents, stopping the constant push back at those here on legal temporary status, and allowing the DREAMers to stay.

We can rebuild our relationship with our allies and we can restore America's standing in the world, start the negotiations to get back into the Iranian agreement as well as return to the INF treaty while working with our allies to address Russian violations.

Let's reverse the Trump reversals on Cuba and work to restore freedom to travel to Cuba and trade with Cuba. I have long led this bipartisan bill--first with Senator Flake, now with Senator Enzi--and as President I look forward to completing the work that Barack Obama started when it came to Cuba.

Let's strengthen cybersecurity and protect our elections and other American infrastructure.

We can end the practice of granting big oil companies secret waivers from the renewable fuel standard.

Yep, the President said he was going to support our farmers. And we all know in 2016 he got a lot of support in those areas of the country. But what did he do? He went out and behind closed doors gave secret waivers to the big oil companies just at a time when our sector of the economy--the agriculture sector--has been hurting -- hit by bad weather while he does nothing on climate change. Hit by commodity prices, hit by the trade war.

In my first 100 days, I will also implement gun reforms that are long overdue. We can start by closing the 'boyfriend loophole"--that's a bill that I have led for years. But guess what? A president can do it herself. And that will keep guns out of the hands of abusive dating partners and go from there of course, to introduce a bill, one just passed the House of Representatives, for the bigger items, including background checks.

Let's reduce incarceration rates. We go a start with the First Step bill, but there's more we can do. I will create a clemency advisory board, actually, on day one to begin reviewing requests for clemency.

Let's make mental health and addiction a priority and address workforce shortages for nurses, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, especially in rural areas.

Let's tackle disparities in maternal and infant mortality by developing a national model for care.

We can target funding on Alzheimer's research and put us on track to develop a cure, treatment, and better prevention and treatment by 2025, something I was just talking about at AARP. By the way, this issue of long term care, and Alzheimer's which is gonna hurt 14 million Americans by 2050, doubling of our senior population, is like the elephant in the room that no one is dealing with, no one is talking about. We have over 40 million people, right now, who are seniors.

When it comes to our democracy, we can stop the insidious discrimination at the ballot box by restoring the Voting Rights Act.

We can immediately nominate judges to fill judicial vacancies. Judges who will follow the law and respect precedent.

We can make it clear that the resident and the Vice President have to follow conflict of interest laws and require the president to make her tax returns publicly available.

We can publicly post executive branch ethics waivers and report senior officials' conflicts of interest in rulemaking. All this can be done by the President.

And we can fully fund Freedom of Information Act offices and post FOIA requests online.

Let's shed a light on the corporate dark money spending by requiring publicly traded companies to disclose all political spending over $10,000 to their shareholders.

Finally, let's stand up for net neutrality. I will use federal contracting requirements to encourage broadband providers to honor net neutrality principles.

And we can immediately put in place a plan to connect every household to the internet by 2022. If Iceland can do it I think we can do it. The President can set this goal now.

So there's so much more, so unless you are in a rural area that doesn't have access to the internet, something I will change, you can see all of these plans and goals and my 100 day plan on my website at

To conclude, at his first inaugural, FDR said the people were demanding "direct, vigorous action." They were demanding results. That was true in 1933. And it is true again today.

When millions marched at the Women's March, they were demanding results.

When thousands rushed to the airports over the President's meanspirited travel ban, they were demanding results.

And when Americans voted last year to turn the House of Representatives back into the People's House, because they didn't like what the president was doing when it came to health care, when they didn't feel like they were part of this economy, they were demanding results.

And when they vote on November 3, 2020, the American people will once again be demanding results.

And when I take the oath of office on January 20, 2021, that's what I will deliver. 100 days of direct, vigorous action followed by the passage of major legislation. The American people are hungry for this change, and believe it or not, some of our elected representatives, many of them, are hungry for it too.

My first 100 days plan is what I credibly pledge to do to move our country forward as President. It's a plan to return to the optimistic politics of one of my mentors Paul Wellstone, who always said politics is about one simple thing: it's about improving people's lives. And when you believe that, all of this other stuff, it just melts away. So let's get it done. Thank you.

Amy Klobuchar, Remarks at the National Press Club Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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