A selfless act? Well, maybe, but perhaps only in part. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been shortlisted for the running mate position ever since Joe Biden finally took command of the Democratic primaries, but that doesn’t mean the Minnesota senator was a shoo-in. Even before the events of the past couple of weeks, the party’s African-American base of voters looked uneasy with Klobuchar, and not just because of the Minnesota pallor she exhibits.
Nevertheless, Klobuchar tried to present her withdrawal as a kind of selfless sacrifice on last night’s Lawrence O’Donnell Show on MSNBC. At first O’Donnell plays along, giving her a buildup as perhaps the most traditional of Democratic choices. However, what follows after this clip might get more to the heart of the matter:
O’DONNELL: Senator, we’re probably seven or eight weeks away from Joe Biden making a choice for the vice presidential slot. Should Joe Biden return to Minnesota as Democrats have in the past, choosing Democratic Senator Humphrey from Minnesota for vice president, then choosing Walter Mondale for vice president? Is there — what case would you make at this point in the campaign for senior senator from Minnesota as the vice-presidential candidate?
KLOBUCHAR: You know, Lawrence, I have never, as you probably know, in many, many shows, since I endorsed the vice president in that joyful night in Dallas, I never commented on this process at all. But let me tell you this, after what I have seen in my state, what I have seen across the country — this is a historic moment and America must seize on this moment. And 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, and 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. And that’s just what I think after being through this in my state.
Again, that certainly plays a part in this strategy, but it’s not the whole story. The full truth is that Klobuchar already had trouble with her record as Hennepin County District Attorney in regard to police use of force, and O’Donnell immediately pinpoints that next:
O’DONNELL: Senator Klobuchar, you are giving us the positive case for a woman of color on the ticket. But as you considered your own prospects in the last few weeks, did you have concerns about your own record as a prosecutor in Minneapolis and how that might be dragged into the campaign and into the possible — what — how you could function as a vice presidential candidate?
KLOBUCHAR: I think I could have functioned fine and there’s a lot of untruths out there about my record. And now is not the time to debate those. Some things that have been put out on there, on disreputable sites and passed through the Internet. And that’s just what life is in politics.
To be more precise, now is no longer “the time to debate those.” Had Biden picked Klobuchar, the debate would have immediately erupted and lasted for, oh, about four-plus months. Klobuchar has never had a good answer for those questions except to point out that one controversial case was out of her hands. Before the George Floyd homicide on her old home Hennepin County turf, Klobuchar might have hoped that the controversy would fade as all Democrats rallied around a Biden-Klobuchar ticket. There’s zero chance this issue will fade now.
That’s another reason this “withdrawal” was nothing but show biz. Unless Biden is seriously in his dotage, there is no way he would have chosen Klobuchar at this moment to be his running mate. That would have been akin to thumbing his nose at the constituency that won him the nomination. There was already tons of pressure to name a woman of color to the ticket before the Floyd homicide; putting a former prosecutor who passed on several police use-of-force cases into the VP slot would have been political suicide.
So … who’s next? We’ll have more on that later, but suffice it to say that the woman-of-color option isn’t looking much rosier for Biden, either. Klobuchar was a non-starter regardless.
Update: Headline edited after initial publication for precision.