Amy Klobuchar rejects idea that moderate Dems are trying to crush Sanders

Klobuchar exited the Democratic race after she finished in sixth place in the South Carolina primary.

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By Rebecca Shabad

A day after endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden for president, Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Tuesday rejected the notion that she and other Democrats are trying to crush Sen. Bernie Sanders.

"You want a candidate that not just builds a coalition of fired-up Democrats, which we've got, but also brings in independents, moderate Republicans. That's how we won back the House of Representatives, and that's what Joe Biden can do," Klobuchar said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on "TODAY" as voters headed to the polls on Super Tuesday, when 14 states and American Samoa were holding primary contests.

Klobuchar, D-Minn., exited the Democratic primary race Monday after she came in in sixth place in the South Carolina primary Saturday. A few hours after her announcement, she joined Biden, who won South Carolina's primary, on stage in Dallas to endorse him.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, dropped out of the race Sunday night and endorsed Biden in Dallas on Monday evening, as did former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas, who suspended his campaign last year.

"I don't look at the mayor and Beto O'Rourke and myself as establishment. I look at us as new leaders for the party, fresh faces for the party. And we're basically saying, 'We've got to win here, and that's why we're supporting Joe Biden,'" Klobuchar said Tuesday.

Asked to react to President Donald Trump's impression that she and other Democrats were staging a "coup" against Sanders, Klobuchar said none of them had even spoken with one other before endorsing Biden.

"We made the decision, instead of a personal victory for ourselves or a personal quest, that this was about our country, and we need to beat Donald Trump and have someone with experience that can get things done in the White House," she said.

Klobuchar said that she hasn't spoken with Biden about possibly serving as his vice presidential running mate. She was among several women running for the nomination, including three of her fellow senators. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is the only female senator still in the race.

Once it was reported Monday that the endorsements were coming for Biden, Sanders, I-Vt., told reporters in Salt Lake City that there's a "massive effort" to stop him from securing the nomination, saying members of the political establishment are "really getting nervous."

NBC News reported Monday that former President Barack Obama may be the quiet hand behind the movement of Democrats coalescing around Biden.

Obama spoke with his former vice president after he handily won South Carolina on Saturday and with Buttigieg on Sunday when he dropped out of the race, according to people familiar with the calls.

People close to Obama said he has been keeping close tabs on the race. They said that the signal has been sent in the past 36 hours that he sees Biden as the candidate to back and that they don't need Obama to say it publicly or privately.