Klobuchar minimizes pressure to endorse Obama, but says Clinton should stay in race

Unlike some of Minnesota’s superdelegates who have been hounded from above and below for their votes, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar was largely left to make up her own mind.

“I wasn’t deluged with details,” said Klobuchar, who announced late Sunday that she would support Barack Obama.

Of course, that’s a benefit that comes from working in the same office complex as Obama and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Klobuchar said she’d talked to both candidates many times, but that her mind had been long made up and she’d held back only “out of respect for both candidates.”

“I have been signaling for months where I am on this,” she said in a brief interview Monday morning, noting that the time had come to pull back the curtain. “As my 12-year-old daughter said, ‘Awkward, Mom.’ ”

Klobuchar also differs with some of her fellow Obama-backers on what path Clinton should now take: “I believe that based on her strong candidacy, she should stay in the race,” Klobuchar said. Sens. Pat Leahy and Chris Dodd, himself a failed ’08 candidate, have recently said that enough is enough and believe that Clinton, trailing in the delegate race, should withdraw.

Klobuchar has now become the latest prize in the battle between the Obama camp, which says he is too far ahead for Clinton to catch up, and Clinton’s campaign, which reminds the world that Obama’s delegates won’t be enough to clinch the nomination. The Wall Street Journal points out today that since the Super Tuesday races Feb. 5, new superdelegate endorsements have broken heavily for Obama and that he wants to create an endorsement wave that will push Clinton further from the race.

Only two uncommitted superdelegates remain in state
Minnesota now has only two uncommitted superdelegates: U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson and Democratic National Committee member Nancy Larson. Of the 12 who have picked a side, Obama leads 9-3. For a complete and updated list, colleague Eric Black recommends Demconwatch. Eric has been keeping close watch on the superdelegate situation.

If you need a refresher on who these folks are, Doug Grow’s recent story should help you out.

Klobuchar points to two factors in making her call.

“This endorsement really reflects both Barack’s strong support in our state and my independent judgment of his abilities,” she said.

Citing the state and her own thinking allows Klobuchar to argue that her position represents both the voters and her considered judgment — exactly what superdelegates are supposed to exercise.

She said Obama helped sway her with his work in seeking to ban lead in toys, which preceded her election. (Consumer safety has become one of her signature issues, and in early March she shepherded a product safety bill with the lead ban in it through the Senate.) Obama first called her on her initial drive to Washington to offer support for ethics reform that has been a freshman class project.

It was the Obama enthusiasm, not difference on the issues, that swayed her, too, she said, noting that DFL primary caucus turnout was three times the previous record. Caucus-goers gave Obama 66 percent of the state’s total, to Clinton’s 32 percent.

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