MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Thursday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the running to be vice president, urging Democrat Joe Biden to select a woman of color instead.
The white Minnesota senator, who had seen her prospects fall as racial tensions swept the nation, said Thursday that she called the presumptive presidential nominee Wednesday night and made the suggestion. Biden had already committed to choosing a woman as his running mate.
On Friday, CBS News’s Ed O’Keefe interviewed Klobuchar about her decision, and the two also talked a number of other topics, including that her father Jim Klobuchar has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Here is a transcript of their conversation:
O’KEEFE: Want to start by asking how is your dad. I saw what you just announced a little while ago. How’s he doing?
KLOBUCHAR: He’s doing fine right now. He’s an incredibly strong person. He is 92 years old. A mountain climber, has climbed some of the highest peaks in the world. Loved journalism, was in the news for 40 years. And so he’s taken on a lot of challenges. So we’re just hoping right now he’s doing pretty well, that he’s going to be OK. And I’m going to go visit him tomorrow, like so many families do, through a closed glass window so I can just wave and say hi and talk to him on the phone. You know, for a lot of people, when their parents are older, that’s how they say goodbye. And we’re really hoping that’s not the case with him, because right now he’s doing OK.
O’KEEFE: We’re pulling for him. And how is your husband’s recovery going?
KLOBUCHAR: Oh, he’s doing great. Yes. His last remaining symptom that he couldn’t clean the basement appears to have gone away. So he’s doing fine.
O’KEEFE: Let’s talk about your decision this week. Why did you ultimately decide that you should withdraw your name from consideration?
KLOBUCHAR: I thought a lot about it, and I truly believe that this is a historic moment for our country, really in our history. 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. 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.
O’KEEFE: What was his response when you told him that?
KLOBUCHAR: Oh he was I’m not going to reveal the private conversation. We talked for quite a while. Let’s just say he is an incredibly kind person. And I think we need a kind person in the White House right now.
O’KEEFE: When you say a woman of color, would you say specifically it needs to be an African-American woman in your view?
KLOBUCHAR: I’m not going to get into names. I think there are so many qualified people I wouldn’t have said this if I didn’t think that there were so many qualified women of color that they’re considering and are out there that could do a wonderful job. And in the end, he’s going to pick whoever he wants to pick. And he was a great vice president, so I think he’ll make a good choice. But to me, as I told him, I just see this as a historic moment that we should be seizing on.
O’KEEFE: Had you started the vetting process? Had you started to consent to the documents and questionnaire and the interviews?
KLOBUCHAR: I never talked about the whole process, but I was in the middle of the process and I think they will tell you that I was I. I uh, I just came to the decision myself. And I called him.
O’KEEFE: Of, for those of us on the outside looking in who are –
KLOBUCHAR: So there was nothing like bad going on in the process, if that’s what you mean. It was fine. Yeah.
O’KEEFE: Oh, no. No. Of course not. That’s not what I was alluding to. What I was alluding to was can you give us a sense of what it is like? And what they’re asking for and what the process has been like so far now that you’re no longer a part of it?
KLOBUCHAR: Oh I just don’t talk about those things, I really think in the end what matters is a strong ticket, and he will make a good decision. And right now, I have so much work to do in the Senate. I’m the ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee. I’ve got a senior person on the Judiciary Committee. We can push for police reform in the next few weeks. We’ve got voting issues. I was just with our black ministers this morning and our secretary of state talking about what happened in Georgia and how we want to make sure it doesn’t happen in the rest of the country. I’ve been very focused for the vice president and will be on those first 100 days because I want him to win. And I think he is the person that’s going to be able to take on the challenges we have right in front of us. And that’s getting a vaccine out and making sure that our economy’s rolling again. And so there’s just gonna be a lot of work to do.
O’KEEFE: You alluded to this earlier and look you’re a senator from a Midwestern state and you have a bipartisan voting and working record. Voters in these early states were giving you credit for that because you were a dealmaker – someone who could bridge the divide. You have local experience. You are a woman. You are a mother. Did you ultimately just sort of determine that you weren’t qualified – well Let me ask it this way. 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?
KLOBUCHAR: 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. 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. And that’s what the country is crying out for. It is not only about the tragedy that we saw, the murder in Minneapolis and what’s been happening across the country. It’s also about the pandemic and how that was mishandled by President Trump. And I think one of the best ways when you see those immigrant workers on the frontline every single day at the hospitals and in the grocery store, when you see the murder of George Floyd and everyone saw that videotape, when you see African American women go up to a maternity ward in New Orleans and say her hands are swollen and no one listens and she loses her baby. To me, this moment in time cries out for putting someone of color on that tape with him. And I believe it. It’s how we’re going to heal. And I told him when I called him that my resolve is as strong as ever to help him win. And I will do all I can. Yes. I have strong support in the suburbs. I have strong support in rural areas. I’ve gotten around the country and I plan on doing that in a big, big way for his campaign and he wants me to do that. So none of that will change.
O’KEEFE: As someone who speaks with and has good relationships on both sides of the aisle – give us a sense of how likely it is that there will be changes to America’s policing policies before Election Day?
KLOBUCHAR: I have to hope, beyond hope that my Republican colleagues will do more than what they’ve offered right now. People are asking for real change. And to me, that means not just some database that no one can even see. Police misconduct, it means much more than just doing lip service to banning chokeholds, especially when you have police chiefs and mayors all over the country and governors saying they should be banned. It means much more when it comes to accountability and reforming the police. As someone that’s worked in law enforcement before, there’s a lot of good police officers out there and they can meet these higher standards. But we have to set them and we have to have a change of culture. And that’s why I know my Republican colleagues have been hearing that. You don’t even have to look at a poll to know that. But I think what they put on the table just isn’t strong enough. And so the way you move something forward is if they’re willing to actually do something that matters and get this done. Yes. Then we can get it done. But not with the bill they’ve put out there now.
O’KEEFE: Let me ask one other in regards to the running mate situation. Is it in your view that picking a woman of color guarantees victory for Joe Biden or makes it more likely?
KLOBUCHAR: You know, I think the one that’s going to make the victory likely is Joe Biden. I think you’ve seen that time and time again in presidential races that that’s the biggest thing. And he’s someone that brings competence at a time that we need competence. He’s the one that made sure all the money got out in the right way from the last economic downturn. And we certainly need that right now with the money coming out of Washington. He is someone that helped to manage the Ebola epidemic. And here we have a president that we now know was trying to curry favor with the president of China to help his own re-election, Trumps re-election instead of taking them on early on on the pandemic and getting the equipment out to our country. So I cannot think of a better time for Joe Biden to come into the White House. And I think that’s what’s going to matter. I think the vice president matters because you want someone to work with that is there and on the ready to help you get things passed. But I think the biggest thing that’s going to make a difference is putting Joe Biden in the White House. And I thoroughly believe with all the immensely qualified candidates we have out there for vice president, that he will find someone good and that they’ll be a great team. And I’m just looking forward to working with them.
O’KEEFE: You don’t have to give me the name because I realize you probably won’t but did you give him a specific suggestion on who he should pick?
KLOBUCHAR: I did not. We didn’t discuss any names.