Klobuchar’s exit came after she finished in sixth place in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, winning only 3.1 percent of the vote and no delegates. Her departure came less than a day after former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg ended his campaign.
The senator had briefly surged in some polls following a strong performance at the Feb. 7 Democratic debate in Manchester, N.H. Her campaign had dubbed the boost “Klomentum” and hoped it would catapult her into the top tier of candidates through the rest of the early-nominating states.
From the day she announced her candidacy last February — at a snowy outdoor event in Minneapolis — Klobuchar leaned hard into her Midwestern identity. She repeatedly sold herself as someone who could win over rural and suburban voters in swing states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Donald Trump narrowly eked out victories in 2016.
“I’m from the Midwest, and the one thing that really unites our party right now is that we want to win — and everyone knows in 2016 we had some major issues in the Midwest,” Klobuchar said at a Washington Post Live event last summer. “I have won the congressional districts where Donald Trump won by more than 20 points. And I have not done it by selling out. I’ve done it by going to where people are, by being honest with them.”
Klobuchar had banked on a strong finish in Iowa and New Hampshire to remain competitive in the race. She finished in fifth place in the Iowa caucuses, but then a strong debate performance helped push her to third place in New Hampshire. She came in sixth in Nevada’s caucuses.
Unapologetically moderate, Klobuchar criticized Medicare-for-all, instead calling for adding a public option to build upon President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Klobuchar was also vocal about calling out sexism. “Women are held to a higher standard,” Klobuchar said on the debate stage in November. “Otherwise we could play a game called ‘Name Your Favorite Woman President,’ which we can’t do because it has all been men, including all vice presidents being men. And I think any working woman out there, any woman that’s at home, knows exactly what I mean.”
For months, Klobuchar struggled to gain traction, hurt by a primary field that was crowded with other centrist candidates. At the beginning of this year, Klobuchar saw an uptick in support, hitting double digits in some Iowa polls — which coincided with the start of Senate impeachment proceedings.
In the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses, Klobuchar sat in on Senate impeachment hearings during the day, then campaigned from afar at night, holding two tele-town halls with Iowans. One weeknight, she managed to sneak in a surprise overnight trip to stump in Council Bluffs, Iowa, before returning to Washington — and the halls of Congress — in the morning.
“I am a mom; I can do two things at once,” Klobuchar said when asked about balancing impeachment duties and campaigning in the final stretch.