Last week, in a moment that has since gone viral, Joe Biden told the African American hosts of The Breakfast Club podcast that, if they sided with Trump instead of him, then “you ain’t black!” in addition to generating a massive backlash, Biden may have also backed himself into a corner with regards to his potential vice-presidential running mate. If he wants to prove that he’s not the racist that people accuse him of being, he basically has no choice but to pick a woman of color to be his running mate (and given many of his statements, he’s publicly committed to picking a woman at this point).
It’s not a foregone conclusion, but it is hard to imagine that he could pull the trigger on selecting a white VP candidate. That doesn’t bode well for potential selections like Senator Amy Klobuchar who is reportedly being vetted by the Biden campaign. Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota ran for president this year herself before bowing out of the race when it became apparent that she wouldn’t become the Democrat nominee.
But with Biden’s VP pick still up in the air, does Senator Klobuchar actually have a chance at getting the nod from the Biden campaign?
Klobuchar served for eight years as a prosecutor in Minneapolis before being elected to the United States Senate in 2006. At the time, her tough-on-crime enforcement policies were well-regarded by both parties in Minnesota. However, it appears that her record is now a hindrance to her VP chances. In particular, the minority community has taken issue with her record on “social justice” issues as both a prosecutor and a Senator.
Of specific concern is her handling of a case in which her office prosecuted a black teenager for the murder of an 11-year old. The New York Times reported “A recent investigation by The Associated Press raised questions about whether the police and Ms. Klobuchar’s office used a laundry list of dubious tactics in their pursuit of a conviction against Mr. Burrell, who was 16 at the time. The guilty verdict against him was later set aside by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which ordered a new trial, where Mr. Burrell was convicted again by Ms. Klobuchar’s successor.”
Politico reported, “In a Washington Post op-ed this month urging Biden to select a woman of color as running mate, seven black strategists and activists called out Klobuchar, warning she would “only alienate black voters.”
‘Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, does not need help winning white, working-class voters — he serves that function himself,’ they wrote. Referring to her record as a chief prosecutor in Minneapolis-based Hennepin County, they added, ‘A choice such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), who failed to prosecute controversial police killings and is responsible for the imprisonment of Myon Burrell, will only alienate black voters.’
With scathing reviews like that, Klobuchar will likely have a hard time convincing anyone to make her VP. However, Klobuchar does have some positives to bring to the ticket. She would help Biden in the Upper-Midwest region, being that she is the Senator from Minnesota. She’s also annoyingly folksy and possesses a repertoire of “mom jokes,” which might play well with middle Americans. She would help Biden with the white- and blue-collar workers that Trump picked away from the Democrats in 2016.
Biden has to ask himself whether it’s more important to fire up the base or pick a candidate that can draw out blue-collar independents. If he chooses to prioritize the latter, then Klobuchar has a fighting chance. If he chooses the former, then Klobuchar’s aspirations may be dead in the water.