Amy Klobuchar has withdrawn from consideration to be Joe Biden’s running mate, urging the presumptive Democratic nominee to choose a woman of color instead.
The Minnesota senator’s prospects of running as vice president alongside Biden faded after the police killing of George Floyd in the state she represents sparked a nationwide reckoning over police brutality and systematic racism in the US.
“I think this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket,” Klobuchar said on MSNBC. “If you want to heal this nation right now, my party, yes, but our nation this is sure a hell of a way to do it.”
Biden had already signalled that he’s likely to choose a woman of color. And in April, more than 200 black women leaders and activists within the Democratic party signed an open letter calling on Biden to choose a black woman, noting that “the road to the White House is powered by black women and black women are the key to a Democratic victory in 2020”.
Klobuchar, a white, moderate Democrat, has recently had to contend with her past as a prosecutor in the county that includes Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed. During her tenure, Klobuchar declined to prosecute police accused of using excessive force against black suspects. More than two dozen mostly black and minority people died during encounters with police.
Klobuchar, 60, was among a large field of Democrats who had sought the 2020 presidential nomination, running as a pragmatic Midwesterner who had passed over 100 bills. She dropped out and threw her support behind Biden before the crucial 3 March “Super Tuesday” contests after struggling to win support from black voters, who remain crucial to Democratic victories. Her best finish of the primary was in overwhelmingly white New Hampshire, where she came in third.
The senator had to cancel one of her final campaign rallies after Black Lives Matter and other activists took the stage in Minnesota to protest her handling as prosecutor of a murder case that sent a black teenager to prison for life.
Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, a Biden ally and highest-ranking black person in Congress, said in the days after Floyd’s death that “this is very tough timing” for Klobuchar.
During the 11th Democratic presidential debate, after Klobuchar had dropped out, Biden explicitly committed to picking a woman as vice president and nominating the first African American woman to the supreme court.
Klobuchar, who has been an enthusiastic campaign surrogate for Biden, indicated she will continue to support him. In the interview with MSNBC, Klobuchar brushed aside the suggestion that her record as a prosecutor would have affected her ability to function as Biden’s running mate.
“I think I could have functioned fine,” she said. “There’s a lot of untruths out there about my record and now is not the time to debate them.”
After the interview aired, senior Biden adviser Symone Sanders indicated that she expected Klobuchar back on the campaign trail.
.@amyklobuchar I hope you know this doesn’t get you out of any Women for Biden events especially in Minnesota! 🙂 Grateful for your introspection, your passion & your insight. We appreciate all you’ve done for our campaign Senator!! Happy to be in this fight with you!— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) June 19, 2020