Amy Klobuchar Withdraws from Race She Wasn’t In

The Senator from Minnesota is no longer a candidate for Vice President.

The Senator from Minnesota is no longer a candidate for Vice President.

The Senator from Minnesota was at one point a frontrunner—and one of my personal favorites—to be Joe Biden’s running mates. But that was before the Floyd George murder changed the conversation.

WaPo (“Amy Klobuchar withdraws from VP consideration, urges Biden to pick a woman of color“):

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota announced late Thursday that she was withdrawing from consideration to be the running mate to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on the Democratic ticket.

Ms. Klobuchar, who mounted her own campaign for the presidency before dropping out and becoming one of Mr. Biden’s most spirited surrogates, said during an MSNBC interview that she called Mr. Biden on Wednesday night and told him he should choose a woman of color to be his running mate.

Ms. Klobuchar, a moderate and veteran of the Senate like Mr. Biden, was known to have a strong rapport with the presumptive Democratic nominee, and was an early favorite of a significant number of his donors and supporters. But her case for being Mr. Biden’s running mate was badly damaged after the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. The death, which has prompted weeks of demonstrations and protests against police violence across the country, led to renewed scrutiny of Ms. Klobuchar’s career as a local prosecutor in Minneapolis.

“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.”

In a Twitter post late Thursday, Mr. Biden praised Ms. Klobuchar and described her as a key ally in the contest to beat President Trump in November.

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. You know how to get things done. With your help, we’re going to beat Donald Trump. https://t.co/4kquPZtSV9
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 19, 2020

Mr. Biden committed to naming a woman as his vice-presidential pick during a debate with Senator Bernie Sanders on March 15. His team’s search committee has contacted roughly a dozen women, and eight or nine are being vetted more intensively, according to people familiar with the process.

Klobuchar had tried to get around the damage, as noted in another WaPo report from May 23 (“Klobuchar, amid Biden VP search, scrambles to fix relations with black community“):

Just before February’s South Carolina primary, Amy Klobuchar landed a coveted chance to address African American leaders. When the black activist and journalist Roland Martin learned about it, he was outraged.

Martin fired off a text to Al Sharpton, the longtime civil rights leader hosting the event: How could he offer such a valuable platform to Klobuchar, who he felt had ignored the black community and brushed off his interview requests?

Sharpton let the senator from Minnesota speak, but when she was done he instructed her to talk to Martin, pointing him out from the stage. “Y’all need to talk to the black press,” he told her as the audience looked on.

The unusual public scolding underlined a chief weakness in Klobuchar’s current drive to be Joe Biden’s running mate: her strained relations with African Americans. The tensions, rooted in part in her record as a Minneapolis-area prosecutor, hurt her presidential aspirations and have come storming back into the spotlight now that she is increasingly seen as a top candidate to join the ticket.

In response, Klobuchar is urgently courting the black community. In recent weeks, she has aggressively reached out to African American groups, introduced a voting rights bill, joined an NAACP town hall, worked with black leaders and granted interviews to African American journalists.

But some say it’s too late to improve her standing after decades of friction. “In the next two weeks? I don’t know what that would look like,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of the Color of Change, a racial justice nonprofit.

As a county prosecutor, Klobuchar was too harsh toward nonwhite defendants, particularly African Americans, critics say, and as a U.S. senator she’s done little to help the black community. In seriously considering Klobuchar, Biden’s camp is making “a dangerous and reckless choice,” said Aimee Allison, a leading activist for women of color.

There was simply no way that Biden could have picked Klobuchar in the current environment, especially given the centrality of African-American support to the Democratic coalition.

Klobuchar’s exit is akin to saying “You can’t fire me, I quit!” But Biden’s fast and generous response was gracious and correct, given how much her and Pete Buttigieg’s withdrawal and endorsement on the eve of Super Tuesday helped him consolidate the nomination.

Her admonition to pick a black woman is being widely seen as a direct attack on Elizabeth Warren, a bitter rival during the primaries. But, given that Biden has already pledged to pick a woman, it seems like he’s going to be boxed into that move.

The sudden urgency to take down monuments to Confederates and slaveholders, etc. brought on by the protests demonstrates a change, at least temporarily, in the national mood. My Twitter timeline today has been filled with homages to “Juneteenth.” While I’ve known about that occasion as long as I can remember, going back at least to grade school in Houston nearly half a century ago, this is literally the first year that it’s been a thing among elite whites.

My bet remains that Biden will pick Kamala Harris, who seems the safest choice. Val Demmings, a career cop who rose to be chief of police in Orlando before moving on to Congress, would be interesting be she’s not particularly experienced in national politics. That goes double for Stacy Abrams, who’s a dynamic candidate but too unseasoned to be first in line to the biggest job in the world behind a very old man in not-that-great health.

FILED UNDER: Amy Klobuchar, Campaign 2020, Joe Biden, Police, Race and Politics, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Veep candidates are getting thin on the ground. What Klobuchar did to Warren was a low-rent move that reminds me of all the stories about Klobuchar being an abusive boss.

    Val Demmings and the Oakland PD. I guarantee you there are some skeletons. Chiefs of Police accumulate skeletons.

    Abrams disqualified herself in my view by trying to bully Biden.

    So, Condi Rice and Kamala Harris. Maybe Lujan Grisham is still in the mix?

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  2. mattbernius says:

    The other option is Keisha Lance Bottoms. But events in Atlanta might have taken her off the table.

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  3. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Well, Rice has a boatload of experience, and she’s said not to be an ideologue, but she’s a Republican. Unless you think that Biden is going to take a leaf out of John McCain’s book and seek a running mate of the opposing party (remember Joe Lieberman?)

    Given the availability of qualified (to varying degrees) Democratic AA women, I don’t think the Democrats would stand for Rice.

    Could Loretta Lynch’s name be added to the list?

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  4. Jen says:

    Given Biden’s age and that he’s suggested he’d only serve one term, his choice needs to be able to stand on her own, in front of the nation’s voters, in less than four years.

    I hope he’s being really, really thoughtful about this process.

    ETA: @CSK, my hunch is that Michael meant Susan Rice, not Condi.

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  5. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Jen: I’m glad you posted this. I was about to post something to Michael that was really rude.

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  6. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    You’re right. I didn’t think of that–and I should have. But here’s something interesting. The Hill ran a column this morning suggesting Conddoleezza Rice as Biden’s v.p.

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  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    @CSK:
    Susan Rice. Susan. And I had already had coffee. I blame senility.

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  8. Jen says:

    @CSK: Did they run another one? I know there was a piece a week or so ago by an independent. I read it, and just basically ignored it.

    There’s no way Democrats will accept Condoleezza Rice, and Biden would be foolish to make a move like that. That’s why I assumed that Michael meant Susan Rice–the notion that a Bush-era Cabinet member is the only appropriate choice for VP for a Democratic administration is borderline offensive.

    I could be off, but I hope not!

    ETA: I see Michael has weighed in, all is well! 🙂

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  9. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Or you’re still recovering from the unparalleled excitement from being officially designated as a finger-snapping Hollywood Asshole.

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  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jen:
    @CSK:

    For those looking at the mythical perfect centerest, kumbaya, crush partisanship team Condi Rice would be their wet dream. But outside of Tom Friedman and Bret Stephens, I’m not sure who they are.

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  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s the hangover from celebrating the movie deal.

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  12. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Believe it or not–she’s trying to get in position for a 1st team Cabinet appointment and a shot at the 2024 nomination

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  13. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    You know, I responded to Michael in a similar vein, but for reasons unbeknownst to me, my comment went to comment purgatory.

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  14. CSK says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    Who? Condi?

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  15. Michael Cain says:

    My bet remains that Biden will pick Kamala Harris, who seems the safest choice.

    Harris has already been attacked for not being sufficiently black. My perception is that the national party (dominated by East Coast influences) wants a VP candidate who is a “traditional” African-American. So, someone from a largish city somewhere east of the Mississippi River. Harris may be able to overcome being from the West Coast, but I think it is a mark against her this year.

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  16. al Ameda says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Val Demmings and the Oakland PD. I guarantee you there are some skeletons. Chiefs of Police accumulate skeletons.

    I believe Val Demings was with the Orlando Police Department.
    I continue to believe that Kamala Harris will be selected, and Susan Rice, Val Demings and Stacey Abrams seem long shots to me (I wonder what the Vegas line is?)

    Finally, If Biden wasn’t boxed in on this, I think Hakeem Jeffries and Cory Booker would be in the running.

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  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    @al Ameda:
    Yep. Orlando.

    Sigh.

    OK, yes, my head is elsewhere. I don’t handle good news well. It freaks me out. That’s it, I’m taking the day off from trying to think.

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  18. de stijl says:

    It’s gonna be Harris unless vetting goes way bad.

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  19. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Finger snapping Hollywood asshole.

    Love it.

    There was a movie from the 90s with Frank Whaley as a put upon assistant to Hollywood bigboi Kevin Spacey (ick). Whaley gets pushed to the brink and loses it.

    Swimming With Sharks

    A certain observer might pay attention.

    The finger snapper bit cracked me up.

    Reynolds: (Snap) de stijl, how long ago did I ask for coffee?

    de stijl: Six minutes ago, sir. The grounds are blooming now, sir.

    Reynolds: I asked for a fucking coffee not a process diagram. Bring me my fucking coffee! (throws ashtray at de stijl)

    de stijl: Yes sir. Right away, sir (walks off plotting righteous murder)

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  20. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I realize I have been giving you shit for two days and never actually said congratulations. Well earned.

    Sorry!

    I was having fun giving you shit and spaced out.

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  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @al Ameda:

    I have to disagree. In this current environment, I do not see a former prosecutor, of any shade of the rainbow, being selected. Especially not one with a very long and widely covered career in that role. The political negatives and costs of selecting her far outweigh whatever questionable benefit selecting her might offer and should be readily apparent.

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  22. Modulo Myself says:

    I think it’s going to be Kamala Harris. As far as I can tell, the negatives against her play only with the Defund the Police movement. Moderates and liberals are going to be desperate after this summer for a person who can be the savior of a more moral police state. How many votes will that cost Biden with the left? I don’t think that many. Conservatives have revealed who they are. A vote for Trump is a vote for white supremacy and nutjob paramilitary fantasies. It will drag the left into this election to vote for status quo Democrats.

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  23. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @CSK: Nope Klobachar

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  24. Gustopher says:

    @al Ameda:

    Finally, If Biden wasn’t boxed in on this, I think Hakeem Jeffries and Cory Booker would be in the running.

    I can see him unboxing himself if he thinks it’s the right thing to do. Recent events, blah blah blah, so-and-so educated him about some of the things he was missing, blah blah blah, that time with popcorn, blah blah, needs national experience, blah blah, popcorn again, blah blah next vp of the United States Corey Booker.

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  25. senyordave says:

    @Modulo Myself: I agree. I think in a normal year Harris might cost him with the far left, but Trump is historically terrible that only the most dedicated berniebros will sit this one out. And most of those people were lost anyway. One of the few good things about Trump is he can’t sugarcoat his awfulness, he wears it proudly. I think that Harris checks a lot of boxes for Biden, and I like the fact that she seems to be very good at counterpunching. I think she would relish a down and dirty fight, and will be good at the part of the VP role as attack dog, so Biden can rise above the fray.

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  26. Scott F. says:

    @senyordave:

    I think that Harris checks a lot of boxes for Biden, and I like the fact that she seems to be very good at counterpunching. I think she would relish a down and dirty fight, and will be good at the part of the VP role as attack dog, so Biden can rise above the fray.

    I think this is about right. The prosecutorial skill for taking apart a witness she’s demonstrated in Senate hearings make Harris far more valuable to Biden on the trail than any presumed symbolic cost of naming a prosecutor as his VP. In her debate with Pence and on the stump, she can “levy charges” against the Trump administration with credibility and relentlessness no other potential running mate could match.

    If the election is the referendum on Trump it appears to be shaping up to be, then Harris will be very useful in making the case against him.

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  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    She’s the poster child of tough on crime, 27 years worth of it. The African American community is well, well aware of that and they don’t trust her. It wasn’t without cause that she pretty resoundingly failed to garner any significant support from them during her campaign. She doesn’t invigorate AA turnout, she alienates the far left and she doesn’t really get you anything that Biden doesn’t already get you IMO. We won’t even talk about the added optics of looking like you’re trying to pander to African Americans by nominating somebody just because she’s African American (which, fair or not, is how it’s likely to be received).

    The very real risk here is that a summer of isolation, riots and Suburbia watching Dem leaders let cities burn leaves swing voters with two perceptions – they have cause to be afraid and Dems are too weak to protect them. Couple in the silent backlash from a large chunk of the country seeing quite a lot of their cultural touchstones eradicated by what they’ll view as political correctness and you have the recipe for a backlash. It’s not a great situation.

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  28. de stijl says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Given the where and the when, I cannot remember any Hennepin County DA cases where she or her office screwed it up.

    Was she woke in today’s terms? Not entirely, but she was not a troglodyte. Better than the cop protector guy she replaced. I voted for her gladly.

    It was obvious from back then she was going to an up and comer so she was careful not to offend.

    I could see Klobuchar in a cabinet job.

    My money is on Harris for 2020 veep.

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  29. Modulo Myself says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Riots? Burning cities? Give me a break. That’s not happening. The backlash is not happening. Suburban voters are going to be more freaked out about Trump and his white nationalist cop killers, maskless morons, unemployment, and rising Covid infection rates. Come fall schools are going to be reopening. You think that Tucker Carlson showing the same photo of a burning car for weeks is going to matter? Oh no: antifa. Meanwhile, Trump and the GOP will be denying the existence of Covid by then. Biden needs somebody youngish, who can be a rational middle for suburban voters.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong: Harris is utterly terrible. She’s a product of several decades of backwards-looking Democratic politics. Basically, the Democrats should have been running lovable school principals and defense attorneys instead of careerist prosecutors and trying these people out on the inane minds of suburban dummies.

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  30. EddieInCA says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    @Scott F.:
    @Modulo Myself:
    @al Ameda:

    You’re all forgetting one very important piece of the puzzle….

    I’ve been saying for over 18 months that the ticket was going to be Biden/Harris. Even after the debate where Harris stuck a shiv in Biden over busing, I still said it would be Biden/Harris. Why? I’m not that smart. I’m not a fortune teller. And I could still be wrong. But…

    The missing piece of the puzzle is…. Kamala Harris was very, VERY close to Beau Biden. Beau Biden and Harris were very good friends as Attorneys General for their respective states. They worked together on several national issues together, and developed a deep and respectful friendship. The Biden family has a deep affinity for Harris due to her relationship with Beau. It’s something Biden has spoken about publicly many times. In 2011, the two of them used to speak multiple times per day. Multiple. Times. Per. Day. For months. One of the reasons the Biden team was so upset with Harris initially over the busing attack was her friendship with Beau. But Biden quickly told his team that “It is just politics. She’s fighting to win. You gotta respect that.” That attack was never an issue for Biden. He’s been around long enough to respect someone being that cutthroat – which I think helps her in his eyes.

    Knowing what Beau means to Joe is the reason I’ve been saying it’s gonna Biden/Harris.

    What can the Trump campaign say about her? “She was too tough on African Americans while she was the Attorney General of California, so vote for me, Donald Trump!” Right. Let’s see how that would play.

    The leading African American female in the Trump administration just resigned her post due to Trump’s racism. That’s not my spin. That’s her reason for quitting. If you think that Kamala Harris’s past will stop people of color from voting for her, you’re not paying attention to the present.

    https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/18/state-dept-official-cites-trumps-race-response-in-resignation/

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  31. EddieInCA says:

    Moderation please….

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  32. An Interested Party says:

    We won’t even talk about the added optics of looking like you’re trying to pander to African Americans by nominating somebody just because she’s African American (which, fair or not, is how it’s likely to be received).

    Even though there are African Americans, like James Clyburn, who would like him to pick an African American woman…if that chat with Charlamagne tha God isn’t pandering that would hurt Biden, than very little would…

    The very real risk here is that a summer of isolation, riots and Suburbia watching Dem leaders let cities burn leaves swing voters with two perceptions – they have cause to be afraid and Dems are too weak to protect them. Couple in the silent backlash from a large chunk of the country seeing quite a lot of their cultural touchstones eradicated by what they’ll view as political correctness and you have the recipe for a backlash. It’s not a great situation.

    Than how come polls show support for the protests? Not to mention support for removing “cultural touchstones” otherwise known as statues of Confederate traitors…

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  33. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    The polls also said Clinton would win. It’s a matter of who is called and how the questions are phrased.

    Who do they call anyway? I’ve always wondered that. I’ve never been called for a poll. Nobody I’ve ever asked has been called either. Just saying don’t start counting chickens like this thing is in the bag. There is a lot of time between now and November.

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  34. EddieInCA says:

    Can my comment be released from moderation please? I had one link and no profanity.

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  35. Scott F. says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The very real risk here is that a summer of isolation, riots and Suburbia watching Dem leaders let cities burn leaves swing voters with two perceptions – they have cause to be afraid and Dems are too weak to protect them.

    I don’t know where this take on the zeitgeist is coming from. Certainly not the polls or from cultural trends seen in mainstream media platforms.

    The very real opportunity here is that a summer of reasonable counter-measures allowing the gradual return to the new normal, mostly peaceful protests, and Suburbia seeing the possibility for long overdue structural change helping their neighbors of color leaves swing voters with other perceptions – cause to be optimistic about the direction of the country and clarity about the ineptitude and corruption that is the Republicans.

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  36. de stijl says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Let Eddie be free!

    Eddie, if this is obvious bullshit as I am wont to post, it will be so disappointing.

    This is like waiting for a Joss Whedon movie.

    Can you at least share a spoiler or two?

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  37. Scott F. says:

    @EddieInCA:
    I did not know that about her relationship with Beau, but that just seals the deal for me.

    Not only will Harris be very useful as the attacker on the campaign trail, but the conventional wisdom with Biden has been he’d want a VP he could have a personal relationship with that was similar to what he had with Obama.

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  38. de stijl says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Ah! There it is.

    The issue is frankly weird, but it is what it is.

    Any post with more than three links is auto moderated.

    What people don’t often realize is that if you reply to someone that counts as one.

    You replied to four and had one “actual” link so five in total. Greater than 3 means go to the moderation queue.

    You would think that @ replies would be free. They are not.

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  39. de stijl says:

    @EddieInCA:

    The Beau and Kamala stuff is brand new to me as is obviously the Joe and Kamala interactions after Beau died.

    Biden was not my first pick. Given his response to Harris’ jab, it does underline one his best qualities. Dude is definitely a mensch.

    If he were your neighbor, he would be the one you gave your ICE key to.

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  40. An Interested Party says:

    The polls also said Clinton would win.

    And the polls were right, if we’re talking about who got the most votes…

    Just saying don’t start counting chickens like this thing is in the bag.

    It would be foolish to do that, certainly I’m not…

    Who would be a better choice for VP than Harris? Eddie makes a good point…how would Republicans attack her? Certainly their attacks on Biden have not worked at all…

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  41. de stijl says:

    @An Interested Party:

    With you on this. Clinton won more votes Trump. Roughly 2 million more.

    Per the structure of the EC the loser of the total vote count won.

    God bless America

    Land of the systemically disenfranchized*

    Land that I know

    Stand beside her

    And guide her….

    Yeah I get you have to win the EC vote not the popular vote, but an egregious current day example of how votes are not equal, and not equally apportioned.

    Clinton very clearly won the popular vote..

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  42. de stijl says:

    I was there then. I do not recall Klobuchar screwing the pooch at any time then. It seemed to be a fairly scandal-free tenure.

    Is there something I am missing?

    Is she tainted? By what?

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  43. de stijl says:

    Re-read the OP. Joyner is a very careful person. Checked the links. Checked Google.

    What exactly did Klobuchar do wrong?

    Is it that she was a prosecutor once? If so, that’s really weak beer.

    Am I missing something?

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  44. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I’ll have to go back and find it, but one of those polls I saw contacted only AA likely voters about their opinions regarding potential running mates, and surprisingly Warren was higher on net favorability than Harris.

    That electorate is a good deal more sophisticated than a lot of people give them credit for being. I think that a VP that they see as upholding Democratic principles is likely to get their support regardless of race. On the flip, they’re not going to be motivated by someone they don’t trust even if she’s AA. I’m just not seeing what additional positives Harris brings to the table. Sure, she was a prosecutor, but Pence was a litigator in private practice. They’re pretty evenly matched in that regard. All in all, I think a more holistic analysis is called for. Who will bring things / gains / added advantage to the table where Biden is lacking – across the entire electorate while detracting the least. In my view that isn’t Harris. I respect her, obviously. She’s an amazing woman, but all things in consideration I’d have to go with Warren.

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  45. Jen says:

    @de stijl: She oversaw a number of police shootings, and in a “hindsight is 20/20” kind of way, said she would have done things differently.

    On Harris and/or Warren — I keep going back to the notion that the best VP is going to be one that the President can work with, and who passes the vetting. Warren and Harris are both well known–that’s not always a plus. There’s probably someone else in the mix on the shortlist who isn’t as obvious.

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