House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D., S.C.) said Friday that Sen. Amy Klobuchar's (D., Minn.) chances of being Joe Biden's 2020 running mate had been damaged by the violent unrest in Minnesota this week.
Following riots in Minneapolis over George Floyd's death in police custody on Monday, Clyburn told reporters it was "very tough timing" for Klobuchar, who reportedly was asked to submit to Biden's vetting process last week.
"We are all victims sometimes of timing," he said to reporters. "This is very tough timing for Amy Klobuchar, who I respect so much."
Clyburn's endorsement of Biden in February helped push the former vice president to a landslide victory in the South Carolina primary that turned around his campaign. He has urged Biden to pick a black woman as his running mate to reward voters for their loyalty to the Democratic Party, although he has added that that choice is not essential.
Clyburn also told Vanity Fair in an interview published Friday that the crisis did not help Klobuchar's chances, as her career as a Minnesota prosecutor has drawn liberal criticism. She took particular heat during her presidential campaign for her prosecution of black teenager Myon Burrell, who received a life sentence after being convicted of the 2002 murder of a young girl.
"It’s not just this," Clyburn said. "Her history with similar situations when she was a prosecutor came up time and again during the campaign. I suspect this incident plays into that."
Biden has pledged his running mate will be a woman. He effectively wrapped up the nomination in April when his only remaining primary challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), dropped out and endorsed him.
Along with Klobuchar, Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams are among those considered top contenders for the role. No black woman has ever been on a major party's presidential ticket.