Amy Klobuchar announced Thursday that she is taking herself out of consideration to be the vice president. The Minnesota senator instead told former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, to pick a woman of color as his running mate. Biden had previously asked Klobuchar to undergo formal vetting for the role.
"I thought a lot about it, and I truly believe that this is a historic moment for our country, really in our history," Klobuchar told CBS News correspondent Ed O'Keefe on Friday. "And this is a moment to seize. And you have moments in history where you look back at 'em and you think, was that the right thing? And I think the right thing to do right now, and I told this to Vice President Biden, is to put a woman of color on the ticket as the next vice president of our country."
"I think it would be something that would help heal the United States," she added. "I think it is something that would really take what has been a tragedy, but also a galvanizing moment and turn it into a moment of joy. And I think our country is looking for that right now."
"It's indelicate but I think this is what a lot of people are wondering. Would you be more qualified to be vice president right now if you weren't white?" O'Keefe asked.
"Again, I did not comment about my situation in this process from the very beginning, I've been consistent. I'm not going to do that right now," Klobuchar said. "All I know is that Joe Biden needs to win. And I think the best way for him to win right now is by healing the country."
The senator made the decision on Wednesday after conferring with aides and family, and made the choice entirely on her own with absolutely no pressure from Biden, his campaign aides, or those leading the search, multiple people familiar with her decision said.
Klobuchar and Biden spoke Wednesday night by telephone and she conveyed her decision, aides said.
Her decision comes as Biden's team of VP headhunters is deep into a review of the backgrounds of potential candidates, a process that includes an extensive review of documents, public and private records and extensive written questionnaires and interviews. Only two other potential contenders — Senators Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire — have signaled that they were asked to engage in the search and decided not to participate.
Until the fatal arrest of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the global reckoning on civil rights, policing and racial tensions it provoked, Klobuchar was seen as a formidable option for Biden — and one he'd signaled he admired and deeply appreciated. Klobuchar has since faced criticism for her prosecutorial record and handling of past cases of police brutality.
Klobuchar has been praised by Biden in interviews and campaign fundraisers for her debate skills, ability to sway moderates in his favor, and record of bipartisan deal-making on Capitol Hill. Her eleventh-hour withdrawal from the presidential race on March 2 — less than 24 hours before Super Tuesday — and decision to endorse Biden was also seen as a turning point.
Biden tweeted his support for Klobuchar after she announced her decision to withdraw from the vice presidential race Thursday night, writing, "You know how to get things done. With your help, we're going to beat Donald Trump."
Klobuchar's decision to take herself out of vice presidential consideration does not change Biden's timetable on making a final choice, according to aides familiar with the ongoing running mate search. Biden has said several times publicly that he intends to announce his pick by August 1.
Biden has shied away from publicly committing to choose a woman of color. He recently insisted to CBS News' Norah O'Donnell that George Floyd's death and the ensuing nationwide protests have not dramatically altered his criteria.
But several women of color, including former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Representative Val Demings and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, are now being considered more seriously for the role than they were weeks prior, CBS News learned this week. Approximately half of the women under consideration are women of color.
In addition to a small group of family and advisers, Joe Biden is relying on two-term Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, the first woman and African American elected to Congress in Delaware's history, whom he called on months ago to help choose his running mate.