Jay Corn

Senator Amy Klobuchar rang in the new year by touring east central Minnesota last week.

Minnesota's junior senator made stops in Cambridge, Hinckley and several other area towns and cities, visiting Mora on Wednesday and meeting with about three dozen area residents at the Mustang Steak House to discuss a wide range of national issues.

The senator was greeted by Mora Mayor Greg Ardner and presented a gift bag which included a Vasaloppet sweatshirt and other small keepsakes.

Klobuchar spent about 45 minutes outlining her political objectives for the coming year, and much of that time was spent discussing health care and the war in Iraq.

"No matter how we each feel about the war in Iraq, I think we're all in agreement that the troops need and deserve our support,'" Klobuchar said. "There wasn't a line when they volunteered to join, and there shouldn't be a line (for care) when they return."

Klobuchar went on to say that she would continue to vehemently oppose America's military operations in Iraq and push hard for troop withdrawal.

"We're spending $12 billion every month in Iraq," Klobuchar said. "That has to end. I still think the best thing we can do for our troops is to bring them home."

In addition, Sen. Klobuchar spent considerable time talking with those in attendance about what she described as a health care crisis. She stressed her belief that universal health care was not only important, but vital to the future stability of the American middle class.

"I think we'll have something in place the year after this presidential election," she said.

Klobuchar went on to say that some of her priorities in 2008 would revolve around changes in prescription prices under Medicare Part D and Medicare reimbursement. Both, she said, would be addressed by Congress in the near future.

Klobuchar also outlined what she said were some highlights from her first year in Washington during her Mora visit last week. Ethics reform, student loan reform, improved gas mileage standards, alternative energy legislation, a cell phone bill of rights and the passage of the farm bill were all points she discussed at varying length.

Last week's stop in Mora was Klobuchar's second official visit to Kanabec County as a sitting U.S. senator. She visited the area early last year to visit with staff and administrators with the Lakes and Pines Community Action Council to discuss early childhood development and energy assistance - two areas t