First, you can tell a candidate who has run for president and one who has not. Klobuchar speaks with confidence, with fluency on issues and with a capacity to share discrete episodes to make a political point. She is polished. She is a plausible vice president because she is a plausible president. She has grown in stature since she set out to run for president, and has perhaps become more open after going through a medical scare that thousands of Americans are now experiencing.
Second, while normally a button-down, no-nonsense sort of politician, her experience in dealing with her husband John Bessler’s battle with the coronavirus allows her to express emotion and reveal more of herself. With great poignancy she described the frustration, fear and uncertainty of not being able to be physically present with a coronavirus patient. Biden, who lost a wife and daughter in a car crash and was not able to say goodbye, and who was with other loved ones when they died, connected with her story. Biden and Klobuchar share a deep appreciation and respect for front-line health-care workers.
Third, Klobuchar added to the compendium of Biden stories, sharing one about Biden reaching out to a woman who lost her husband. Once more, we got to see that innate empathy — a quality entirely absent in the current president — allows Biden to understand average voters’ ordeals and console them in difficult times.
Fourth, Klobuchar, who got her start in politics after her own experience getting kicked out of the hospital while her newborn daughter had to remain for treatment, also shares a pragmatic view of politics similar to Biden’s. At the most fundamental level, they see politics as a problem-solving exercise and therefore one in which they have been able to reach across the aisle to achieve desired ends. In answering a voter’s question, she explained that the most surprising thing she discovered in coming to Washington as a U.S. senator was the rank partisanship.
Finally, Klobuchar brought up her relationship with McCain and her experiences traveling overseas with the Arizona Republican. She expressed appreciation for his determination after he directed foreign leaders to ask questions of Klobuchar, whom he would introduce as the senior Democrat on the visit. He “gave me gravitas,” she explained. And incidentally, McCain also helped prepare her to deal confidently with foreign policy issues, a necessary qualification for someone who would be expected to step into the presidency at a moment’s notice.
One could easily imagine Biden naming Klobuchar as his vice president. They share a plain-spokenness, a pragmatic view of politics and an emphasis on governing with empathy. Biden also went out of his way to thank her for her endorsement (and exit from the race), without which he said he would not have racked up wins on Super Tuesday en route to becoming the presumptive nominee. Biden may choose instead to look for a woman of color (in part to create campaign excitement and rev up his base), but if governing ability and compatibility are what he is looking for, Klobuchar would surely fit the bill.
Watch ‘Today is for Amy,’ a Stephen Sondheim parody by Alexandra Petri: