Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) removed herself from the running to be the Democratic vice presidential nominee, an acknowledgment that her chances at the slot had dwindled dramatically since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in her home state late last month.
Announcing her decision on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” on Thursday night, Klobuchar said she informed presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden of her decision on Wednesday and said he should pick a woman of color as his running mate.
“America must seize on the moment, and I truly believe — as I actually told the VP last night when I called him — that I think this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket,” Klobuchar said.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, New Mexico Gov. Michele Lujan Grisham and former national security adviser Susan Rice are all seen as top contenders as running mates for Biden, who was Barack Obama’s vice president. All but Warren are women of color.
Though Klobuchar’s moderate politics and success at winning elections in the Midwest made her a favored pick of many in the Democratic donor class, she was a difficult sell for many other parts of the Democratic Party. Black activists had no enthusiasm for her, and her history of abusing staff members was likely to come up during the vice presidential vetting process.
Still, the national protests against racism and police violence that followed Floyd’s death likely eliminated Klobuchar’s chances to get the job. Floyd, a Black man, died as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
When Klobuchar served from 1999 to 2007 as the chief prosecutor in Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, she had declined to prosecute police officers who killed Black men in the line of duty.
In her interview with “Last Word” host Lawrence O’Donnell, Klobuchar insisted her prosecutorial past would not have hindered her ability to serve as a running mate and vice president.
“I think I could’ve functioned fine, and there’s a lot of untruths out there about my record, and now is not the time to debate those,” she said.
Biden offered praise for Klobuchar on Twitter not long after she announced her decision.
Klobuchar is not the first vice presidential contender to remove themselves from consideration. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), who is running for reelection, and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (Nev.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, had already removed themselves from the process.
Klobuchar’s call for a woman of color to be the vice presidential pick is likely to be seen as at least an indirect shot at Warren, whom Klobuchar alternately allied with and clashed with during the Democratic presidential primaries.
Though Klobuchar exceeded expectations in the New Hampshire primary, she performed poorly in both Nevada and South Carolina and dropped out rather than face a drubbing on Super Tuesday, when she likely would have been competitive only in her home state.
Biden has already named a vice presidential search committee and has said he is likely to pick a running mate in either late July or early August.