Klobuchar Boosts Obama's Superdelegate Count
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama held town hall-style meetings in Pennsylvania today in their push for votes in the upcoming primary. But the real battle centers on the 794 superdelegates, the party leaders who may well decide who gets the nomination.
Senator Obama has been chipping away at Senator Clinton's lead among superdelegates, and that trend continued today as Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar endorsed the Illinois Senator despite an earlier pledge to remain neutral. Senator Klobuchar joins us now from Minneapolis.
Welcome to the program.
Senator AMY KLOBUCHAR (Democrat, Minnesota): Well, thank you, Michele. It's great to be on.
NORRIS: Now, Senator Klobuchar, you know that people will be analyzing this decision.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Sen. KLOBUCHAR: Really?
NORRIS: Well - yes, looking at it from all sides. And one of the questions will be did Barack Obama earn you endorsement? Or did Hillary Clinton lose your support?
Sen. KLOBUCHAR: First of all, let me say about Senator Clinton. I would never say one bad thing about her. I am just amazed by all the work she's done and her leadership. I think both she and Barack would be a strong president.
And my endorsement really came from the work that Barack had done in our state and the overwhelming support he had, but also that unique ability he has to reach across and bring in independents and young people.
I just saw it firsthand in areas of our state that I wouldn't believe that, you know, moderate Republicans, independents came over to the Democratic caucuses to vote for Barack Obama. And I think people in Congress need that kind of leader. And ultimately, it was a significant factor, the support of my state, but also my own independent judgment.
NORRIS: Now, we're hearing quite a bit about this effort to woo those superdelegates, particularly the undecided superdelegates. How much pressure were you under? How many phone calls did you take?
Sen. KLOBUCHAR: I think it's different with members of the Senate because we see them all the time. They are our friends. We see them in the chamber. I talked to them themselves as opposed to other people.
So, I didn't really feel that that was a problem for me. There were amusing moments like, when Barack left me a message while I was in Costco and other things. But overall…
NORRIS: Costco, the discount store?
Sen. KLOBUCHAR: Well, exactly, you know, to get good deals. We also go to Target, a Minnesota company. But in any case, they talk to me, you know, fairly regularly about this, but overall, it was my own decision.
And it was a difficult decision because the immense respect that I have for all of them, and I would've liked to have had this resolved before, and it's not - I am not one to say that Senator Clinton should get out of the race. I think Hillary has every right to continue.
There are many good things about this in terms of bringing people out state by state as they march through the country and getting people enthusiastic. And the people see, as time goes on, that there are much more that brings these two candidates together with their views on issues and separates them from John McCain.
NORRIS: Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has set an unofficial deadline for July 1st. He says this needs to be wrapped up by then.
Is that realistic? And can he or anyone else in the Democratic Party step forward and settle this?
Sen. KLOBUCHAR: Well, I am very hopeful we'll get this done in June. First of all, we'll have a better sense because the primaries will be over then. And I really look to the two candidates. I have so much faith in them, their big hearts and their good heads and their leadership abilities, that they're going to be able to come together and figure this out without having some, you know, super-duper delegate, you know, convention.
And so, in June, I am very hopeful that they're going to be able to work this out. And I have a strong feeling that we're going to know more about what the final delegate count is, we're going to know more about where the final popular vote is, and they will come to their own conclusion about how this is best resolved.
NORRIS: Senator Klobuchar, Thank you so much.
Sen. KLOBUCHAR: Well, thank you very much. I'm looking forward to being on again.
NORRIS: We'll look forward to that also.
That was Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.