Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) made light of her reputation for verbally abusing her staffers Saturday in remarks at the annual Gridiron Club dinner for journalists and Washington insiders.
Klobuchar joked about the numerous staff mistreatment accusations that have quickly dogged her recently announced 2020 presidential campaign.
“How did everyone like the salad? I thought it was OK, but it needed just a bit of scalp oil and a pinch of dandruff,” Klobuchar said, referring to a report that she used a comb to eat a salad on an airplane in 2008 after an aide forgot to bring her a fork.
Klobuchar berated the aide for the utensil incident and directed him to clean her comb after she finished eating with it, The New York Times reported earlier this month.
Several people withdrew from consideration to lead Klobuchar’s 2020 campaign, in part because of her behavior as a boss and the hostile work environment she created, HuffPost first reported last month.
BuzzFeed followed with a story on allegations from additional former aides who claimed she sometimes threw objects during her verbal outbursts, accidentally hitting a staffer with a binder during one such incident.
“I cried, like, all the time,” a former staffer told BuzzFeed of the experience working for the lawmaker.
Klobuchar has defended herself against the staff mistreatment allegations. She told reporters in Minneapolis minutes after formally announcing her 2020 presidential bid last month that though she “can be tough,” her demands served a higher purpose.
“Yes, I can push people,” Klobuchar told the reporters. “I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work for me, but I have high expectations for this country.”
Though she’s faced backlash over the allegations, she didn’t shy away from making them the punchline of several jokes on Saturday.
She said that when Girdiron Club President Gerald Seib, the Wall Street Journal’s executive Washington editor, “called me about tonight, he asked, ‘Do you need a microphone or do you just prefer to yell at everyone?’ I said microphone.”