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Sen. Amy Klobuchar Praises VP Pick Kamala Harris For 'Grace Under Pressure'

Senators Amy Klobuchar (left) and Kamala Harris talk before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Michael Reynolds/Pool Image via AP)
Senators Amy Klobuchar (left) and Kamala Harris talk before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. (Michael Reynolds/Pool Image via AP)

Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota says Sen. Kamala Harris, who Joe Biden has chosen as his running mate, has shown true progressive chops and "grace under pressure."

Klobuchar urged Biden to pick a woman of color for the vice presidential nomination when she dropped out of contention for the role in June. Biden's announcement Tuesday makes Harris the first Black and Asian American candidate for vice president, and just the third woman on the bottom of the ticket for a major political party.

When Klobuchar and Harris ran against each other for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Klobuchar says they became closer friends.

"Sometimes when people run against each other, they don’t even talk to each other again. It was much different with us," she says. "As the campaign went on … we had a lot of fun together, and I am so happy for her."

Klobuchar says speaking to Harris after Biden's announcement was "a moment of joy."

"I can’t wait to see what they will do together, not just as a ticket, but what she will bring to the office of vice president, working side by side with Joe Biden," Klobuchar says. "She knows how to govern."

Interview Highlights

On whether Biden missed a chance to appeal to the progressive wing of the party

"I think, first of all, our party is unified. Look at Bernie [Sanders], immediately in a beautiful endorsement endorsing Joe Biden. …. I see unity in our party. And I see in Kamala Harris, someone who is progressive. She took on the ban on gay marriage in her state and helped to change the law as she fought big oil. She faced down the gun lobby. You just go through her record and she is someone that’s standing with people. But I think more than that, right now, we are in the middle of a pandemic and we need a team that’s going to go in there, from the first day on, those first 100 days are going to be critical, know how to work with Congress to pass the legislation that we need. Look, what’s happened right now with the gridlock. Someone who’s going to go in there and have the ability to understand the people of this country. And so that’s why I’m just so excited about her as a choice."

On whether Harris is the right choice when popular support for police reform has surged, given her record as a prosecutor

"She actually … along with my friend [Sen. Cory Booker], they led a major thoughtful bill [on] police reform. Unfortunately, the Republicans stopped it in its tracks. But it would have done things like ban chokeholds. And you look at her past. She’s been someone that has stood on the side of justice. Do you get criticized when you’re in hard jobs, especially as a woman? Of course you do. She and I both know that, as does every woman that’s run for office.

"As I said, if we weren’t held to higher standards, you could play a favorite game called name your favorite woman president. You can’t do that. You can’t even play a game called name your favorite woman vice president, because there’s never been one. And so we all know that we’re held to a higher [standard]. Kamala can take the criticism. And when I saw what Donald Trump said about her [on Tuesday], instead of just saying, ‘Welcome to the race, welcome to the race,’ what does he do? He calls her those words that he has used against women throughout his presidency — 'nasty,' 'angry.' The adjectives I would use to define my friend Kamala Harris [are] words like tough, words like strong, words like empathetic and someone with experience."

On whether Harris has to worry about being seen as "too tough"

"No. What I have seen and I think what the nation has seen, including in the debates with someone that has shown grace under pressure. Sure, she’s tough. She does her job. And I think one of the hardest things for all women candidates is that is sometimes perceived not as a positive, which it would be in men, but it’s perceived as some kind of negative. Someone once said that men can run on their potential, but women run on their record. And if that’s true, she’s got both things.

"And I just see this as something she has endured for years. I have endured for years. You’re used to it and you just rise above it. She’s risen above that challenge, by the way. You know, here she is. And you’ve made the analogy to Barack Obama. People didn’t think he could win because he was African American. And he showed the world that that wasn’t true. … And then I also think that people think, 'Wow, we’ve never seen not just [an] African American woman, but an Indian American woman running.' In some ways that makes it all the more exciting. And I think you’re going to see that as this campaign goes through into November."

Francesca Paris produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Tinku Ray. Samantha Raphelson adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.