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Sen. Amy Klobuchar Drops Out Of Presidential Race, Endorses Joe Biden

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) -- Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced she is dropping out of the presidential race and, at a rally for Joe Biden in Dallas Monday night, said she supported the former vice-president for president.

She appeared with Biden at a rally in Dallas on Monday night, saying that it was time to "bring dignity and decency back to the White House." She said Americans need a president who will represent all America and who understands that "service is not about self-interest."

Her voice cracking, Klobuchar said, "I cannot think of a better way to end my campaign than by joining (Biden's)."

Klobuchar broke the news to her staff entire shortly after noon on a conference call from Salt Lake City on Monday, two campaign officials told CBS News. Klobuchar thanked her team for their work on the "wild ride" of the campaign, telling staff that she was proud of the operation they built.

The Minnesota Democrat was in Salt Lake City, Utah for another rally Monday. Now, she'll fly to Dallas, Texas to meet with former vice president Joe Biden.

The decision comes one day after protesters forced her campaign to cancel a political rally in St. Louis Park. Protesters filled the stage before the event could start.

Organizers gathered outside of St. Louis Park High School with signs and megaphones calling for the release of Myon Burrell -- a man they say was wrongfully convicted in 2002 while Klobuchar was the Hennepin County attorney.

Just two days away from Super Tuesday -- Minnesota's turn to cast its ballot in the Democratic primary -– hundreds of attendees headed home without hearing from the candidate. And for those who already voted for Klobuchar early, they will not have a chance to change their vote.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren thanked Klobuchar after the news was announced.

Related: WCCO's Presidential Primary Election Guide

Klobuchar posted sixth place finishes in Nevada and South Carolina.

On Sunday, Pete Buttigieg, the 38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, dropped his presidential bid. On Saturday, billionaire Tom Steyer dropped out of the presidential race after he finished behind Joe Biden in South Carolina.

With Klobuchar and Buttigieg endorsing Joe Biden on Monday night, it's a dramatic and lightning fast coalescing of the moderates in the race, a move targeted to block Sen. Bernie Sanders from doing well on Super Tuesday and winning the nomination. Moderates say they do not think Sanders can beat President Donald Trump in the general election.

Biden is currently trailing Sen. Bernie Sanders by just two national delegates as the candidates head into Super Tuesday, when voters in 14 states will head to the polls.

Klobuchar entered the race with low name recognition compared with many of her rivals, a disadvantage she was still citing a year into her campaign. Outside Minnesota, the lawyer and former prosecutor was best known for her questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during a 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow teenager when both were in high school, if he ever had so much to drink that he didn't remember what happened. Kavanaugh retorted, "Have you?" Klobuchar continued, unruffled, and Kavanaugh later apologized to the senator, whose father is recovering from alcoholism.

Klobuchar was one of the first candidates to outline a plan for addressing addiction and mental health, an issue she described as personal because of her father's longtime struggle. Her accounts of growing up with a father suffering from alcoholism and watching him be forced to choose between prison or treatment were some of the most compelling moments of speeches, interviews and discussions with voters. Klobuchar said that her father described getting help as being "pursued by grace" and that it's an opportunity all people fighting addiction deserve.

But Klobuchar couldn't match her top competitors in fundraising. She raised about $11 million in the last quarter of 2019 — roughly half of what Sanders and Buttigieg received. The lack of finances early on in the campaign meant Klobuchar wasn't able to expand her operation on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire until months after her rivals. She then scrambled to put an operation in place in Nevada, South Carolina and the 14 states that will vote on Super Tuesday.

Still, there were bright spots, including strong debate performances that helped bring in new donors. Her campaign credited Klobuchar's showing in a debate days before the New Hampshire primary with helping her clinch a better-than-expected third place in the state's primary, topping Warren and Biden. Klobuchar said she raised $12 million in the next week.

During one debate, she addressed sexism in the campaign, questioning whether a woman with Buttigieg's experience would qualify for the stage. She also pushed back at fears of a female candidacy, saying, "If you think a woman can't beat Donald Trump, (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi does it every day."

In January, she earned endorsements from The New York Times, which also endorsed Warren, and the Quad-City Times, one of Iowa's largest newspapers. But Klobuchar was sidelined for much of the last few weeks before the Iowa caucuses when she — along with fellow candidates Warren, Sanders and Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado — was stuck in Washington for the Senate impeachment trial.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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