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Klobuchar ends presidential campaign, plans to endorse Biden

Minnesota senator argued she could win in red states

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is ending her presidential campaign and flying to Texas to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden at a rally Monday night, a campaign spokesman said

The Minnesota senator pitched herself as a moderate who could win in red states and earned praise from pundits. But after a third-place finish in New Hampshire gave her a brief turn in the spotlight, she decided to end her campaign a day before the spate of Super Tuesday primaries that included her home state’s.

Klobuchar’s exit came a day after former Mayor Pete Buttigieg called it quits, removing two opponents to Biden in the more moderate lane of the party as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won New Hampshire and Nevada and got the most votes (but came in second) in the Iowa caucuses, continued to roll up votes from the left.

Klobuchar launched her campaign in the middle of a snowstorm last winter and defined herself as a gritty pragmatist who had proven experience focusing on moderate goals. She said, for example, she would improve on the Affordable Care Act, not enact “Medicare for All.” She also called for enacting clean power rules, not the more sweeping Green New Deal.

In short, she offered an alternative to the idealism sweeping through the Democratic Party and embodied by Sanders. But she struggled to provide a sense of uplift and was often criticized for sounding more like a senatorial candidate than a president. 

Her exit leaves Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard as the only women still competing for the nomination.

Klobuchar and her supporters complained that she was held to different standards than the other moderate candidates in the race, all men, a tension that emerged in withering exchanges with Buttigieg during a debate last month in Las Vegas. 

Klobuchar’s biggest argument for her campaign was that she was the only candidate who had proven she could win over voters who supported Trump in 2016. Before the presidential race, she had never lost a campaign, and she had done so by appealing to voters in rural areas where Democrats have not traditionally fared well. She won all three of her Senate campaigns in Minnesota handily. Trump lost the state by only 1.5 points in 2016. 

But she has trailed in the polls throughout the campaign. As of Monday, her polling average nationally was less than 5%, according to Real Clear Politics. In spite of coveted endorsements from The New York Times and influential newspapers in Iowa, New Hampshire and other states, her campaign could never replicate her strong finish in New Hampshire. She finished sixth in Nevada on Feb. 22 and in South Carolina on Saturday.

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