Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar withdrew her name Thursday as a potential running mate for Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket. A former candidate for the Democratic nomination herself, Klobuchar was, by all reports, under serious consideration to join the Biden ticket and one of eight or nine women being vetted for the job. Klobuchar made only a modest impact during her run for the presidency, lagging far behind in national polling throughout, but sticking around for a handful of early contests—the high point being a solid third place finish in New Hampshire before wilting in Nevada and South Carolina—and dropping out of the race to endorse Biden ahead of Super Tuesday. Klobuchar was quickly rumored to be a potential VP pick, but one that would have come with political downsides of its own, as mashing another moderate senator atop the Democratic ticket at a time when significant portions of the party are demanding leftist candidates would have riled the already fractious base.
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, however, Klobuchar in the VP slot was untenable due to her previous role two decades ago as a local prosecutor in Minneapolis. Her “tough on crime” record, history with law enforcement in the city, and the tactics her office used to secure high-profile convictions and mete out heavy-handed punishments, were already facing renewed questioning the longer she managed to stick around the presidential race. If her record seemed already out of sync with the Democratic Party in February, the national focus on policing in her home county was the death knell for her potential candidacy, no matter how good her relationship with the former vice president.
“During her eight-year tenure as the Hennepin County attorney, the chief prosecutor in Minneapolis, Ms. Klobuchar sought stiffer sentences, tougher plea deals and more trials, and vowed to call out judges for ‘letting offenders off the hook too easily,’” the New York Times reported in February before Klobuchar had dropped out of the race. “Those tactics served her well during her political rise, winning support from some conservatives and inoculating her from attacks by Republican opponents. But her record has also come under attack from civil rights activists who say she pursued policies that shored up her support in white suburbs at the cost of unfairly targeting minorities and declining to prosecute police shootings.”
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There is some question of whether Klobuchar jumped before she was shoved from the list, which likely would have been a political and personal courtesy from a longtime colleague and ally. On her way out, in an interview with MSNBC, Klobuchar called on Biden to select a woman of color to join him on the ticket. “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 color on that ticket.”