Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar gave the Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics address last night to a crowd of over 800 at the Iowa State University Memorial Union.
The chair has been awarded to prominent women of both parties each year since 1995.
Klobuchar became the first female U.S. Senator from Minnesota in 2006 and is mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate.
Klobuchar had practical advice for women considering public office, including running for student government.
First, she said, start with your friends.
“You get people together and say I want to do this and you gotta make sure you want to do it first of all and you're not just doing it to get it on your resume,” she said. “By the way that can happen in big-time politics too."
Klobuchar said studies show that often women don’t run for public office because they think they don’t know enough.
“We once had a candidate who said trade is a big issue around here so I don't think I can run,” Klobuchar said. “And someone looked at her and said, really, because guys just say I own a Volvo so I know about trade."
The Minnesota Democrat said persistence helped her win her first elected office, Hennepin County Attorney, as well as her current U.S. Senate seat.
Klobuchar described cooperation among the 21 female U.S. Senators of rival parties.
“I’ve seen that time and time again with the women in the Senate,” she said.
That includes her work with Iowa Republican Joni Ernst to allow female pilots from WWII to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
She praised the two female Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska who helped bring down the GOP health care bill.
Extra chairs were set up outside the Great Hall to accommodate the crowd.
Tanya Ferguson of Ames was among those giving the speaker a standing ovation.
“I like her demeanor and her pragmatism and the moderation,” she said. “You see so much extremism that you forget that government doesn’t work that way.”