President Obama asked the Democrats to unite behind Joe Biden in a 12-minute video Tuesday as he finally stepped into the 2020 campaign.
Obama said Biden possessed the right kind of leadership ‘the kind of leadership guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace.’
‘That kind of leadership doesn’t just belong in our state capitals and mayors offices, it belongs in the White House,’ Obama said. ‘And that’s why I’m so proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States.’
Obama did his part to pull the Democratic Party together calling Bernie Sanders an ‘American original’ and said Sanders’ ideas would be needed.
‘Because for the second time in 12 years, we’ll have the incredible task of rebuilding our economy,’ Obama said. ‘And to meet the moment, the Democratic Party will have to be bold.’
He said that what Biden and Sanders have in common is that they agree that change needs to occur.
‘And that only happens if we win this election,’ Obama warned.
‘Because one thing everybody has learned right now is the Republicans occupying the White House and running the U.S. Senate are not interested in progress, they’re interested in power,’ the former president said.
President Obama released a 12-minute video on Tuesday announcing his endorsement of Joe Biden, his former vice president
Obama’s endorsement will come one day after Biden (left) had a surprise visitor on his livestream – Bernie Sanders (right), who went ahead and endorsed the former vice president and said he would assist his campaign
Biden (right) served for eight years as Obama’s (left) vice president. Here they’re photographed on the day Obama presented Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for Biden’s decades of public service in the Senate and White House
In the video, Obama said choosing Biden to be his vice president was one of the ‘best decisions’ he ever made – and called Biden a ‘good friend.’
He talked about how the losses Biden experienced in his own life – losing his first wife and daughter in a car accident and later his son, Beau, to cancer – would help him ‘heal’ the country post-coronavirus pandemic.
‘And I know he’ll surround himself with good people,’ Obama continued. ‘Experts, scientists, military officials, who actually know how to run the government and care about doing a good job running the government and know how to work with our allies,’ the former president said.
‘And who will always put the American people’s interest above their own,’ Obama added.
Obama then turned to the crowded Democratic primary, which quickly winnowed down once the caucuses and primaries kicked off in February.
‘Joe will be a better candidate for having run the gauntlet of primaries and caucuses alongside one of the most impressive Democratic field ever,’ Obama said.
He called the Democratic hopefuls ‘talented and decent’ and said they presented the American people with ‘serious visions for our future.’
At that, Obama turned to Sanders, who dropped out of the race six days ago.
‘He and I have not always agreed on everything,’ Obama admitted. ‘We both know nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change.
‘And the ideas he’s championed. The energy and enthusiasm he inspired, especially in young people, will be critical in moving America in a direction of progress and hope,’ the former president said.
Obama, who looks like a moderate in comparison to Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, suggested his own views had moved further to the left.
He said if he was running in the 2020 race, ‘I wouldn’t run the same race or have the same platform that I did in 2008.’
‘The world is different, there’s too much unfinished business for us to just look backwards, we have to look to the future,’ Obama said.
‘Bernie understand that and Joe understands that,’ Obama added, telling Democrats – especially Sanders’ supporters – that Biden has the most progressive platform in history.
Obama said that even before the current crisis ‘it was already clear that we needed real, structural change.’
That phrasing echoed Elizabeth Warren’s calls for ‘big, structural change’ throughout her presidential run. Warren has yet to endorse Biden, but she’s expected to in coming days.
‘We need to do more than just tinker around the edges with tax credits and underfunded programs,’ Obama also said.
Obama never hit President Trump head on, but spoke in coded language to criticize his rule.
‘This crisis has reminded us that government matters. It’s reminded us that good government matters. That facts and science matter. That the rule of law matters. That having leaders that are informed and honest and seek to bring people together rather than drive them apart, those kinds of leaders matter,’ Obama said.
‘In other words, elections matter,’ he said.
‘Right now we need Americans of good will to unite in a great awakening against a politics that too often has been characterized by corruption, carelessness, self-dealing, disinformation, ignorance and just plain meanness,’ Obama said.
Obama pleaded that Americans ‘of all political stripes’ get involved to reject Trump, though didn’t use the president’s name.
Since Sanders dropped out of the 2020 Democratic race last week, Democrats have been chomping at the bit to get Obama involved in the race to take on President Trump.
For Obama, it’s personal.
While Obama was in office Trump – then the host of NBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ – was a constant Twitter critic and fueled the so-called ‘birther’ conspiracy theory, which suggested the Democratic president wasn’t legitimate because he was born in Africa, not Hawaii.
Obama, the country’s first black president, was born in Hawaii to a white American mother and an African father.
During the 2020 cycle, Obama has stuck to the sidelines, wanting to appear that he wasn’t interfering in the primary contest – despite Biden serving for eight years as his vice president.
Trump tried to take advantage of that silence last seek as Biden was sewing up the nomination.
‘And I don’t know why President Obama hasn’t supported Joe Biden a long time ago,’ Trump said from White House podium Wednesday, several hours after Sanders announced he was suspending his campaign. ‘There’s something he feels is wrong,’ Trump claimed.
The current president speculated that Obama would soon endorse Biden ‘because he certainly doesn’t want to see me for four more years.’
‘You know what, I’ll tell you, it does amaze me that President Obama hasn’t supported Sleepy Joe,’ Trump continued, using his nickname for Biden. ‘It just hasn’t happened, when is it going to happen?’
‘He knows something that you don’t know. That I think I know, but you don’t know,’ Trump said.
Trump has tried to present Biden, who at 77 is four years older than him, as addled and out of it, suggesting often that his staff does the work for him.
On Tuesday responding to the news of the coming endorsement, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale also played up the idea that Obama had been dragging his feet.
‘Barack Obama spent much of the last five years urging Joe Biden not to run for president out of fear that he would embarrass himself,’ Parscale said in a statement. ‘Now that Biden is the only candidate left in the Democrat field, Obama has no other choice but to support him.’
‘Even Bernie Sanders beat him to it,’ Parscale pointed out.
‘Obama was right in the first place: Biden is a bad candidate who will embarrass himself and his party. President Trump will destroy him,’ Trump’s campaign manager said.
Biden has been increasingly critical of Trump’s coronavirus response, though has seen his campaign sidelined by the pandemic as he’s forced to do online-only campaigning from his recreation room at home in Wilmington, Delaware.
Neither Biden, nor Sanders when he remained in the race, has been able to engage with supporters in person since mid-March.
Trump has replaced his packed campaign rallies with his daily coronavirus taskforce press briefings, which will sometimes go on for more than two hours.