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Amy Klobuchar withdraws from VP consideration, urges Biden to pick a woman of color

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on June 18 that former vice president Joe Biden should pick a woman of color as his running mate. (Video: Reuters, Photo: Richard W. Rodriguez/AP/Reuters)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Thursday that she has urged former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, to pick a woman of color as his running mate, effectively withdrawing herself from consideration.

“After what I’ve seen in my state, what I’ve seen across the country, this is a historic moment and America must seize on this moment,” Klobuchar said Thursday night on MSNBC. “I truly believe, as I actually told the vice president last night when I called him, that I think this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket.”

Biden praised the senator on Twitter after her interview aired.

“Amy — from the moment you announced you were running for president in a snowstorm, it wasn’t hard to see you had the grit and determination to do anything you set your mind to,” he wrote. “You know how to get things done. With your help, we’re going to beat Donald Trump.”

Klobuchar’s comments come as the country grapples with the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in police custody, which has sparked a nationwide reckoning with systemic racism in law enforcement and society. Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed on the ground.

As speculation has ramped up in recent months about Biden’s pick for vice president after he pledged to choose a woman, Klobuchar emerged early as a leading contender, joining a list that includes Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), among others.

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Amid the protests, though, Klobuchar’s record as a former prosecutor in Minnesota has recently come under renewed scrutiny from black activists. Some even warned that Biden, who prompted outcry last month over remarks about black voters, could jeopardize his presidential aspirations by choosing her.

“I think that would be suicide for Joe Biden’s campaign,” Lenard Larry McKelvey, who goes by Charlamagne tha God, told The Washington Post in May. McKelvey hosts “The Breakfast Club,” a radio program popular with black audiences, which Biden was on when he suggested that African Americans who are considering voting for President Trump “ain’t black,” a comment he later walked back.

“He would be a fool not to put a black woman as his running mate,” McKelvey said.

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Questions about Klobuchar’s prosecutorial record, namely her involvement in a controversial murder conviction of a black teenager when she was the top attorney in Hennepin County, have dogged the senator since she announced her presidential bid last year. Klobuchar also has faced criticism for declining to prosecute cases involving police accused of using excessive force against black suspects, The Washington Post’s Elise Viebeck and Michelle Ye Hee Lee reported.

After Klobuchar dropped out of the race for president in March and endorsed Biden, criticism of her strained relations with African Americans surged again once it became clear that she was being strongly considered as a candidate for vice president.

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On Thursday, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell asked Klobuchar if she had given any thought to how her history as a tough-on-crime prosecutor would have factored into 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 those. ... What this moment should be about is uniting our country and bringing us together. I will do everything, and my resolve has not changed in any way, to help Joe Biden get elected.”

An aide for Klobuchar told The Washington Post that the senator’s decision to withdraw from consideration came together Wednesday and that her choice to do so was made “entirely on her own.”

While Klobuchar’s remarks Thursday were met with approval from Biden’s camp, her suggestion that he choose a woman of color was perceived by many as a direct shot at to Warren, who is reportedly among the group of vice presidential hopefuls currently undergoing more comprehensive vetting. Earlier this week, more than 100 liberal activists, leaders and celebrities signed a letter calling on Biden to choose the Massachusetts senator.

Other white candidates in the running include Whitmer, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D).

Meanwhile, Klobuchar on Thursday emphasized that Biden’s decision could help “heal” the country.

“There are so many incredibly qualified women, but 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,” she said.

Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.