“Joe has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times and heal us through a long recovery,” Obama said in a 12-minute video filmed at his home and posted on YouTube.
“I know he’ll surround himself with good people ― 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, and who will always put the American people’s interests above their own,” he continued.
Obama, who for months had declined to insert himself in the race and instead focused on unifying the party, endorsed Biden six days after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) dropped out of a contest that had seen 28 candidates come and go. Sanders endorsed Biden on Monday, appearing in a video with the former vice president calling on Democrats, independents and Republicans alike to unite behind the former vice president.
Biden is now the Democrats’ de facto nominee.
Obama began his endorsement video by addressing the coronavirus crisis, telling viewers, “Michelle and I hope that you and your families are safe and well.”
He praised the medical professionals, emergency services personnel and others at the front lines of the crisis, in addition to everyone “making their own sacrifice at home with their families, all for the greater good.”
“But 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 continued. “It also has to be reflected in our national government. 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 said.
Earlier in his campaign, Biden said he would not ask Obama to endorse him, suggesting he didn’t need a formal recommendation from the former president.
“No, because everyone knows I’m close with him,” Biden told Politico in December. “I don’t need an Obama endorsement.”
Sources close to Obama had said not to expect any endorsements from him while Democratic candidates campaigned against each other.
“He’s prepared to play a vigorous role in coalescing the party around the nominee and working to defeat Trump,” a source familiar with his decision told CNN in early March, “but weighing in now likely only divides things worse and weakens his standing for when the party will need it most.”
Biden has a number of other high-profile endorsements under his belt, including several from his one-time opponents in the race.
On Monday, Sanders acknowledged his ideological differences with Biden but stressed the importance of ending Donald Trump’s presidency.
“I’m asking every Democrat, I’m asking every independent, I’m asking a lot of Republicans to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse,” Sanders said, directing his words at Biden. The former vice president responded by predicting that he will require the senator’s support “not just to campaign, but to govern.”
The two campaigns are expected to create joint task forces to develop policy positions on issues including education, immigration, the economy and climate change.
Biden is expected to accept the nomination at the Democratic National Convention, which has been moved to mid-August because of the coronavirus pandemic.