Wednesday, April 15, 2020 2:28 pm
By Nehru Odeh
Former President Barack Obama has endorsed Joe Biden as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in this year’s American presidential election. He also urged Democrats across the party’s ideological spectrum to rally behind Biden and form a unified front to defeat President Donald Trump and win back the White House.
Watch the video here
Obama, in a lengthy video posted on Tuesday, lauds Biden’s character and resilience, projecting him as the right candidate to lead the country through a crisis like the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Obama also highlights the stakes of the 2020 election by arguing Trump and Republicans in the Senate are solely interested in power, not making progress for Americans.
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned as a country from moments of great crisis, it’s that the spirit of looking out for one another can’t be restricted to our homes, or our workplaces, or our neighborhoods, or our houses of worship,” Obama says in the over 11-minute endorsement video. “It also has to be reflected in our national government.”
He continues: “The kind of leadership that’s guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace — that kind of leadership doesn’t just belong in our state capitols and mayors offices. It belongs in the White House.”
“And that’s why I’m so proud to endorse Joe Biden for President of the United States,” he adds.
Many political pundits see this endorsement as a strategic move in the wake of the coronavirus and Trump’s plummeting popularity. And it also reunites the former running mates and positions Obama, whose endorsement of Biden was seen as a forgone conclusion once Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race last week, to be one of Biden’s most powerful surrogates in the race against Trump.
It also marks the re-emergence of Obama, who has been in hibernation, into the political arena. The former president kept a low public profile throughout much of the Democratic nomination fight, but was active behind the scenes.
Biden thanked Obama for the endorsement on Tuesday shortly after the video posted. “Barack — This endorsement means the world to Jill and me,” he wrote. “We’re going to build on the progress we made together, and there’s no one I’d rather have standing by my side.”
Obama also spoke directly to progressives, praising the spirit of their movement before outlining why he believes they should embrace Biden’s candidacy. The former president also offered full-throated praise of Sanders and noted what his candidacy has meant for the pursuit of liberal ideals.
“Bernie’s an American original — a man who has devoted his life to giving voice to working people’s hopes, dreams, and frustrations. He and I haven’t always agreed on everything, but we’ve always shared a conviction that we have to make America a fairer, more just, more equitable society,” Obama says.
The former president also offered some of his most direct criticism yet of his successor without calling Trump out by name.
“One thing everybody has learned by now is that the Republicans occupying the White House and running the US Senate are not interested in progress,” Obama says. “They’re interested in power.”
Obama casts Trump as a leader who is more interested in helping the wealthy in the midst of a pandemic than average Americans. He argues that the President and Senate Republicans have repeatedly “disregarded American principles of rule of law, and voting rights, and transparency,” and have been helped by “a propaganda network with little regard for the truth,” seemingly a knock against Fox News.
While those comments are meant to rally loyal Biden supporters against Republicans, they are also aimed squarely at some liberal Democrats skeptical of the former vice president by clearly highlighting the stakes of the election. Many Democrats who ran for president made this argument throughout the campaign, but top Democrats believe it could be more powerful coming from someone who had previously handled the decisions before Trump right now.
According to CNN, Obama in November said he had spoken to all of the candidates during the campaign, often giving them advice both before they announced their bid and after they dropped out. Advisers to the former president said his advice was often the same: Consider why you believe you should be president, what impact it will have on your family and whether you can actually win.
“We have a field of very accomplished, very serious and passionate and smart people who have a history of public service,” Obama said at a private fundraiser in late 2019. “Whoever emerges from the primary process, I will work my tail off to make sure they are the next president.”
Obama had long said he would get behind the eventual nominee, but the former president’s deep affection for Biden was well known to all those who ran against the former vice president this year. Biden even jokingly posted an homage to Obama on “Best Friends Day” in 2019, featuring a friendship bracelet that featured the names “Joe” and “Barack”