U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, speaks with attendees of her campaign stop at Rye Junior High School in New Hampshire Saturday. Credit: Erin Hayes | Portsmouth Herald

RYE, New Hampshire — U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, strode onstage to fervent applause in the packed Rye Junior High School gymnasium Saturday. The scoreboard was lit with “20 to 20,” a nod to her run for the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination.

Stacey Brooks, chairwoman of the Rye Democrats, welcomed Klobuchar. Brooks said she “felt the need to step up. If we all step out of our comfort zones and begin talking to our neighbors, we will be the change we want to see.”

Rye Town Moderator Robert Eaton asked questions of Klobuchar before taking questions from those in attendance. One major theme reiterated by the senator throughout questioning was her ability to work across the aisle with her Republican counterparts.

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“Yes, you stand your ground on very important issues, but you find common ground,” she said. “And when you can find it, you form those coalitions to get things done.”

She mentioned the late Sen. John McCain, a friend and fellow advocate against hyper-partisanship. When visiting with him at his ranch, McCain told her “nothing was more liberating than fighting for a cause larger than yourself,” Klobuchar said.

“I believe that’s what this country is about,” she added. “The person in the White House doesn’t believe in that.”

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Laura Noerdlinger of York, Maine, asked Klobuchar about the separation of powers within the government, and how that idea would impact her choices should she be elected president.

“Trump seems to blur those lines for his own means every single day,” Klobuchar add.

She suggested Trump’s use of the phrase “so-called judges” was a way to “demean the judiciary.”

Immigration took center stage when engineer Ravi Talasila of Massachusetts told his story involving possible deportation.

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“I am living the middle-class American dream, I got married, bought a home and had two beautiful daughters,” said Talasila, who attended with his two infant girls and wife. “Now there’s a 50/50 chance I will be deported.”

Talasila said he filed for a green card extension that was initially granted but his paperwork was later revoked.

“This has been happening all over country,” Klobuchar said. “It seems people who touched the system are now being targeted. That’s why we’ve worked very hard to pass legislation like the DREAM Act. That’s why we’re working on a better path to citizenship.”

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Klobuchar advocated for more border security funding and resolving the issues surrounding family separation.

She also mentioned the need to change the rhetoric around immigration in the country.

“So many of our Fortune 500 companies are headed by foreign-born people,” she said. “Twenty-five percent of our Nobel laureates were born in other countries. Immigrants don’t diminish America, they are America.”

Klobuchar also discussed the opioid crisis, saying the most important thing is for people to receive the treatment they need. Klobuchar suggested the pharmaceutical companies that sold the drugs be responsible for paying for the treatment of those addicted to opioids.

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When the recent shooting in New Zealand was brought up, the senator said she believes greater gun control is needed, but a balance could be struck, and that she uses her uncle who loves to hunt as a litmus test.

“I say to myself, does this hurt Uncle Dick in his deer stand? If the answer is no, I support it,” she said.

Klobuchar is in favor of universal background checks, banning bump stocks, “Extreme Risk” legislation through which law enforcement and family can have weapons removed from people deemed at risk, and a ban on military-style assault weapons.

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Klobuchar said she wants to find a proper solution to expand universal health care, and to hold pharmaceuticals accountable for preventing generic versions of drugs to be sold. She also believed in empowering seniors to negotiate with insurance companies for better coverage under Medicare.

On climate change she said “I don’t want to hear that it’s one side economy, one side ecology – that we have to compromise our money. We don’t. A fix for one is a fix for both.” She said she is in favor of legislation for clean power initiatives, as well as higher gas mileage standards for new cars.