(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Thursday defended herself against the accusation that she does not know enough about Mexico to be president after she couldn’t name Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador or discuss any of his policies during a Telemundo interview last week.
“Shouldn’t our next president know more about one of our largest trading partners?” Telemundo reporter Guadalupe Venegas asked at MSNBC’s Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nev.
Klobuchar: Of course, of course, and I don’t think that that momentary forgetfulness actually reflects what I know about Mexico and how much I care about it, and I first want to say, greetings to President Loprez Obrador. Secondly, what I meant by the game of Jeopardy Is that I think we could all come up with things, how many members are there in the Israeli Knesset? 120. Who is the president of Honduras? Hernandez.
When it comes to Mexico, I am the one person on the stage that came out first to say I was for the U.S./Mexican/Canadian trade agreement. That is going to be one of the number one duties of a president —
Venegas: Senator Klobuchar, my colleague specifically asked you if you could name the president of Mexico, and your response was no.
Klobuchar: Yes. Yes, that’s right. And I said that I made an error. I think having a president that maybe is humble and is able to admit that here and there, maybe wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Venegas: Mayor Buttigieg —
Klobuchar: If you would let me —
Buttigieg: I wouldn’t liken this to trivia. I actually didn’t know how many members were in the Knesset, so you got me there.
Klobuchar: There you go.
Buttigieg: But you are staking your candidacy on your Washington experience. You’re on the committee that oversees border security. You’re on the committee that does trade. You’re literally part of the committee that’s overseeing these things and were not able to speak to literally the first thing about the politics of the country to our south?
Klobuchar: Are you trying to say that I’m dumb? Are you mocking me here, Pete?
Buttigieg: I’m saying you shouldn’t trivialize that knowledge.
Klobuchar: I said I made an error. People sometimes forget names. I am the one that has, number one, has the experience based on passing over 100 bills —
Venegas: Thank you, senator.
Klobuchar: If I could respond, this was a pretty big allegation. He’s basically saying that I don’t have the experience to be president of the United States. I have passed over 100 bills as the lead Democrat since being in the U.S. Senate. I am the one, not you, that has won statewide and congressional district after congressional district, and I will say when you tried in Indiana, Pete, to run, what happened to you? You lost by over 20 points to someone who later lost to my friend Joe Donnelly. So don’t tell me about experience. What unites us here is we want to win, and I think we should put a proven winner in charge of the ticket.
Buttigieg: This is a race for president. If winning the race for Senate in Minnesota translated directly to becoming president, I would have grown up under the presidency of Walter Mondale. This is different, and the reason that I think we need to talk about Washington experience is that we should ask what that experience has led to. Experience and certainly tenure is not always the same thing as judgment. If we’re going to talk about votes in the Senate in Washington, let’s talk about it.
Warren: Can I just defend Senator Klobuchar for a minute? This is not right. I understand that she forgot the name. It happens. It happens to everybody on this stage. Look, you want to ask about whether or not you understand trade policy with Mexico? Have at it, and if you get it wrong, man, you ought to be held accountable for that. You want to ask about the economy, and you get it wrong, you ought to be held accountable. You want to ask about a thousand different issues and you get it wrong, you ought to be held accountable, but let’s just be clear. Missing a name all by itself does not indicate that you do not understand what’s going on.
Klobuchar: You have just invoked my name again, and I would ask to you look at the interview did I directly after the forum, which we went into great detail on Latin American policy, and I want to say one thing about Mayor Pete where we just disagree. He was asked on the debate stage about the Mexican cartels, which are bad, bad criminal organizations. He said that he would be open to classifying them as terrorist organizations. I actually don’t agree with that. That is a very valid debate to have. I don’t think that would be good for our security coordination with Mexico, and I think you got that wrong.