Klobuchar ends White House bid ahead of Super Tuesday

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks at the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Blue NC Celebration, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (Patrick Semansky/AP photo via Courthouse News)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) – Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination Monday after a slow start in early contests and a difficult lead-up to the Super Tuesday primaries.

Klobuchar plans to support former vice president and fellow moderate Joe Biden,  according to the New York Times. She will appear with Biden at a rally in Dallas Monday night.

The senior senator from Minnesota sold herself as a moderate with experience appealing to Midwesterners, hoping to shore up one of 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton’s weaker points.

Klobuchar started drawing national attention in 2018 during the Senate’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. A relative unknown at the time of her campaign announcement in February 2019, she outlasted flashier candidates Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke while keeping her image firmly rooted in folksiness.

She split a controversial New York Times endorsement with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in January and was a fixture on early debate stages, notably using the platform at a Feb. 25 debate to spread information about the coronavirus.

A 14-year favorite of Minnesota Democrats who routinely outperformed the party ticket in elections for her Senate seat, she struggled to distinguish herself from fellow moderates in the crowded presidential field. Her campaign was also marked by questions about her commitment to racial justice and by low-level scandals regarding her treatment of staff.

She took fifth in the Iowa caucuses and third in the New Hampshire primary, picking up seven delegates, but did poorly in Nevada and South Carolina, winning less than 5% of the vote in each and gaining no delegates.

Klobuchar canceled a planned Sunday rally in a Minneapolis suburb after protesters arrived, taking the stage and calling for the senator to drop out of the race in light of her record as a Hennepin County prosecutor.

An Associated Press investigation published last month revealed that Klobuchar’s case against Myon Burell, a black teenager convicted of the 2002 murder of an 11-year-old girl and imprisoned for life, was riddled with inconsistencies and questionable police work. Klobuchar has since said that any new evidence in the case should be reviewed in court.

Klobuchar staffer Madison Growe said the news was sudden and disappointing, but she and her fellow staffers were looking to the future.

“Everyone just wants the best for the country and the party,” she said.

Klobuchar’s announcement came after a rally in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spoke to supporters for about 35 minutes.

“The heart of America is actually bigger than the heart of the guy in the White House,” Klobuchar, who railed against President Donald Trump for much of her stump in the Beehive State, said.

“That idea of being able to look people in the eye and tell them the truth is really going to matter in this election,” she added.

Prior to the news of Klobuchar’s decision to step aside, native Salt Laker Aaron Jones, now of Sugar House, said he felt it was in the “realm of possibility” for her to win the nomination.

“If she doesn’t get it this time, if our country can survive, I hope she’ll try again,” Tonja Ruben, of Tooele, said. “She seems really down to earth.”

Salt Lake City resident Kyle Hanson, an undecided voter, said he felt Klobuchar fell short of distinguishing herself against the tightening field.

Klobuchar “conveyed herself as an alternative to Trump,” Hanson said, “but she didn’t really say how she stood out very well against the Democratic candidates.”