Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota was unexpectedly promoted on national television Thursday evening by Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar.
During a debate on PBS that was co-sponsored by Politico, Klobuchar, a U.S. senator from Minnesota, interrupted an argument between fellow candidates Pete Buttigieg, who is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts.
Warren criticized Buttigieg for conducting a campaign fundraiser in a California wine cave. They then traded barbs about elitism, until Klobuchar cut in.
“I did not come here to listen to this argument,” Klobuchar said. “I came here to make a case for progress, and I have never even been to a wine cave. I’ve been to the Wind Cave in South Dakota, which I suggest you go to.”
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Mentions of Wind Cave subsequently surged on social media, as people not only confirmed that Klobuchar was talking about Wind Cave National Park but also shared various facts and figures about the popular tourist destination.
Tom Farrell, a spokesman for the park, said Friday that the park “can’t get politically involved” and declined further comment.
U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., was among those who tweeted about the debate clip Thursday night. He wrote that "for once" he agreed with Klobuchar and said "everyone" should visit Wind Cave National Park. He added, "but I've never found any wine down there."
Johnson’s use of the qualifier “for once” indicated that South Dakota’s congressional delegation shares little in common with Klobuchar; in fact, one of Klobucahr’s frequent legislative collaborators is Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
A search on Congress.gov indicates Klobuchar and Thune have signed on as sponsors or cosponsors of the same bill, amendment or resolution dozens of times. A search on Thune’s own Senate website produces more than 100 mentions of Klobuchar, including press releases about numerous bills the two senators have worked on together. A search on Klobuchar’s Senate website produces more than 200 mentions of Thune.