After a tumultuous primary season that seems like a distant memory now, candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden is the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) frontrunner, and he’s looking for a running mate. Former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, however, will not be his VP pick. On June 18, Klobuchar stepped aside and pulled her name from consideration for the position, stating that she wanted to make room for a woman of color to take on that job instead.
“This is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket, and there are so many incredible qualified women," she said in an interview. "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.” While it could be true that Klobuchar feels it’s best for the position to go to someone who isn’t a white woman, it is likely that Klobuchar's record precluded her from being VP. The VP vetting process is a rigorous one, and there are parts of Klobuchar's record that have been under the microscope.
The Minnesota Senator is coming off of months of scrutiny over her prosecutorial record and her statements regarding the killing of George Floyd and other unarmed Black Americans. Her decision to step aside is not really a decision at all — and in this moment of uprisings demanding justice for Black people, Klobuchar's alleged space for a WOC running-mate reads more opportunistic than anything.
Several months ago, Klobuchar's record came under fire for the way she handled Myon Burrell’s case, which detailed the potential wrongful conviction of a 16-year-old serving a life sentence. She was the District Attorney in Burrell's case, and was forced to face a detailed investigation revealed that he may not have even been at the crime scene. As a result of the new reports, the senator had to cancel one of the final campaign rallies in her home state when protestors demanded justice for Burrell. The case gained traction again after Biden claimed that Black voters "'ain't Black" if they don't vote for him in a radio interview, which happened to be the same day that news reports circulated stating Klobuchar was in the vetting process to be his running mate.
The Burrell case is only one of the points against Klobuchar. Earlier on in the primary process, Klobuchar received public scrutiny for harassment of her staffers, with BuzzFeed News reporting that behind closed doors, the candidate ran a workplace that was “controlled by fear, anger, and shame,” with staffers saying she frequently demeaned and berated them almost daily. It's an "open secret" in Washington, D.C., that Klobuchar often loses her temper with staffers.
To the extent that the VP pick matters, Biden needs a pick who is going to boost his credibility with young people and progressive voters. Rebecca Kavanagh, a civil rights attorney, echoed the fact that Klobuchar's bow out wasn’t about justice for women of color. “Klobuchar is so calculating. She knew she wasn't going to be picked, so she took herself out of contention to avoid the humiliation and thought she'd gain points by pretending she was doing it for some greater purpose to do with supporting Black women,” Kavanagh tweeted after Klobuchar’s announcement on Thursday.
Ashlee Marie Preston, an advocate and a Black trans woman, also tweeted after her announcement, saying, “Amy Klobuchar need’s to stop virtue signaling. She’s only saying the VP should be a woman of color because she doesn’t have a chance in hell after it was made known that as a prosecutor she let police officers get away with cold blooded murder.”
Both Preston and Kavanagh are, of course, referring to Klobuchar’s a record as the top prosecutor for the Minnesota county that includes Minneapolis, where George Floyd died. Even as her state is in unrest and the uprising that started with Floyd’s death isn’t going anywhere at any point soon, Klobuchar released a statement with passive language about Floyd’s death and pro-police sentiments.
Klobuchar is clearly using the current political moment to dip out of the scene early and save herself more public scrutiny. It remains to be seen how her record will be examined and how she will work to heal her community in Minnesota.