Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar became the first of a likely parade of potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidates to visit Iowa, but she downplayed the speculation during her speech tonight in Clear Lake.

“You are the state that has gained notoriety for picking the country’s presidents,” Klobuchar joked. “And we are the state, thanks to the great Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, that supply the country with vice presidents.”

Klobuchar was the keynote speaker at the “Wing Ding” fundraiser at the Surf Ballroom for Democrats in seven northern Iowa counties. Klobuchar spent some time talking about her own biography — and her 2006 senate victory that shattered a glass ceiling in her home state.

“My mom taught second grade until she was 70 years old and today I stand before you as the granddaughter of an iron ore miner and the daughter of a newspaperman and a teacher — and the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the state of Minnesota,” she said, adding:  “That’s America and that’s promise,” as the crowd applauded. 

Klobuchar, who spoke for about 35 minutes, blasted Republicans in congress for causing a “big government traffic jam” by hiding important pieces of legislation under lock and key.

“I say it’s time to tell the Republicans in the House that the people of this country want the keys to that desk drawer,” Klobuchar said.

Almost two dozen other local Democrats took a turn speaking to the crowd before Klobuchar. The Democrat who hopes to challenge Republican Congressman Steve King’s reelection in 2014 used the word “bozo” to describe King during his speech. Jim Mowrer of Boone made reference to King’s contracting business, which he started in 1975 with one bulldozer. 

“Too many times some members of congress are a hindrance rather than a help to fixing our problems and I’m sorry to say that here in the fourth district we have a congressman who does that. It takes a team of skilled construction workers to build a home, but it only takes one bozo on a bulldozer to knock it down,” Mowrer said, getting applause and laughter from the crowd. “And I think we know all too often that Steve King is the bozo on the bulldozer.”

Mowrer accused King of peddling a message of fear.

“He’s scared of the future and he wants you to be, too,” Mowrer said, “because if you’re afraid of our future, then he can convince you to vote for him.”

Mowrer is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who left a job in the Pentagon to move back to his hometown of Boone to run for congress. King is expected to seek a seventh term in congress in 2014.

(Reporting in Clear Lake by Mark Zdechlik; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson in Des Moines.)