WASHINGTON • Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has announced that she is withdrawing from consideration to be the running mate of former US vice-president Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket.
Ms Klobuchar, who mounted her own campaign for the presidency before dropping out and becoming one of Mr Biden’s most spirited surrogates, said during an MSNBC interview that she called Mr Biden on Wednesday night and told him he should choose a woman of colour to be his running mate.
Ms Klobuchar, a moderate and veteran of the Senate like Mr Biden, was known to have a strong rapport with the Democratic nominee and was an early favourite of a significant number of his donors and supporters.
But her case for being Mr Biden’s running mate was badly damaged after the Memorial Day killing of Mr George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. The African American’s death, which has prompted weeks of demonstrations and protests against police violence across the country, led to renewed scrutiny of Ms Klobuchar’s career as a local prosecutor in Minneapolis.
“After what I’ve seen in my state and what I’ve seen across the country, this is a historic moment and America must seize on this moment,” she said. “I truly believe, as I told the vice-president last night, that I believe that this is a moment to put a woman of colour on that ticket.”
In a Twitter post late on Thursday, Mr Biden praised Ms Klobuchar’s “grit and determination” and said that “with your help, we’re going to beat Donald Trump”.
Mr Biden committed to naming a woman as his vice-presidential pick during a debate with Senator Bernie Sanders on March 15.
Senator Kamala Harris of California, who also ran against Mr Biden and is the only black woman in the Senate, is widely regarded as a strong candidate.
Several other black women are being vetted by Mr Biden’s search committee, including Representative Val Demings of Florida and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta. Mr Biden is also considering Ms Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser under president Barack Obama, the people familiar with the process have said.
In conversations earlier this week, Ms Klobuchar suggested to friends that she recognised that her own history made it difficult for Mr Biden to select her, given the widespread Black Lives Matter protests.
As the district attorney in Hennepin County, which encompasses Minneapolis, Ms Klobuchar developed a tough-on-crime reputation 20 years ago that is a difficult fit with modern Democratic Party politics. Although she has rebutted criticism that she failed to prosecute police misconduct, her record was scrutinised during the presidential campaign and would quite likely have become a major headache for Mr Biden’s campaign had he selected her as his running mate.
Ms Klobuchar’s declaration that Mr Biden should choose a woman of colour created something of an awkward political dynamic for Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another former presidential rival who is being considered by Mr Biden as a possible running mate. Ms Warren is the most prominent and formidable white candidate in the running, and she is far along in the vetting process.
Asked by MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell if her past record as a prosecutor would have made it difficult for her to “function” as Mr Biden’s running mate, Ms Klobuchar said that it was not a factor in her decision.
“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.”