Senator Amy Klobuchar said on Monday that she believed “very strongly that President Trump should be held accountable” but stopped short of calling for his impeachment in response to the report from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
Her remarks, during the first in a marathon series of presidential town halls on CNN, underscored how Democratic candidates are gaming out their responses to the special counsel’s report and set her apart from other candidates like Senator Elizabeth Warren, who have forcefully called for Mr. Trump’s impeachment in the days since the report was released.
“If the House brings the impeachment proceedings before us, we will deal with them,” she said. She added later: “What I will say is there are very disturbing things that would lead you to believe there’s obstruction of justice.”
Ms. Warren, speaking after Ms. Klobuchar, insisted that Democrats could not ignore evidence that Mr. Trump tried to halt or derail the special counsel’s investigation.
“There is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution,” Ms. Warren said, referring to the concern among many Democratic leaders that trying to impeach Mr. Trump would only fail the Republican-led Senate and strengthen the president.
The town hall-style forums at Saint Anselm College were a chance for college students to question Democratic candidates and to share their own concerns and policy preferences. Here are some of the highlights for each candidate.
Klobuchar touts ‘purple state’ success and asks for a cheer
Ms. Klobuchar also highlighted her political successes in Minnesota, citing her electoral record there as proof that she can win back votes in heartland states that helped deliver Mr. Trump the presidency.
“I am someone that runs in a purple state,” she said.
“Every single time I have run,” she added, “I have won every single congressional district in my state including Michele Bachmann’s.”
When the audience remained silent, she said, “That’s when you guys are supposed to cheer, O.K.?” Some students laughed and cheered while others appeared unmoved.
Ms. Klobuchar also answered questions on race relations, education, climate change, health care and the cost of higher education during the town hall.
“I wish I could staple a free college diploma under every one of your chairs,” she said in response to a question about why she does not support tuition-free or debt-free college policies. (Ms. Warren on Monday proposed a $1.25 trillion plan to eliminate undergraduate tuition at public colleges and cancel loan debt for many students.)
Warren takes a knee
Ms. Warren has a well-earned reputation as a policy wonk, but on Monday night she talked about the sexism she has faced in politics, drawing in audience members with a personal anecdote that had nothing to do with her plans for government.
Asked by a student about sexist criticism of Hillary Clinton in 2016 and what lessons she learned from it, Ms. Warren noted that sexism in politics did not start two years ago, but rather has faced women in politics for decades. Then she recounted her 2012 Senate race against Scott Brown, then the Republican senator in Massachusetts, during which Ms. Warren’s personal appearances and likability were scrutinized in news coverage and among some voters.
In response, Ms. Warren said she made it a priority to connect with young women on the trail.
“I’m going to be in this race, and I’m going to make something count every day,” Ms. Warren recalled thinking.
Then she got down on one knee to demonstrate how she talked to young girls on a regular basis: “I’d usually get down, I’m a teacher, and I would say, ‘Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I’m running for Senate because that’s what girls do.’” Ms. Warren also said she asked them to pinkie promise to run for Senate one day.
The crowd cheered as Ms. Warren got up, and she concluded by saying, “That’s how I’m going to become the first woman elected president.”