Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president Tuesday, joining him as the surprise special guest for a virtual “Women’s Town Hall” event.
“I want to add my voice to the many who have endorsed you to be our president,” Clinton told Biden on a livestream from their respective homes. “Just think what a difference it would make right now if we had a president who not only listened to the science, and put facts over fiction, but brought us together.”
Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee, has racked up endorsements from most prominent Democrats — from former President Barack Obama to Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the last two candidates to drop out of the running.
Clinton emphasized her endorsement came from a personal level, as a friend and longtime colleague of Biden’s.
“We have a lot of the same values in common,” Clinton said.
The endorsement, and conversation about the disadvantages many women in the United States are experiencing during the coronavirus pandemic, comes just one day after a woman corroborated allegations of sexual assault made against Biden in a report in Business Insider.
Biden’s campaign has vehemently denied the claims, made by former Senate office staffer Tara Reade, who alleges Biden assaulted her in the Capitol Building in the 1990s.
“Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s campaign spokesperson, said in her statement. “He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard ― and heard respectfully.”
Biden, who has not yet addressed the most recent allegations publicly, emphasized his record introducing the Violence Against Women Act in Congress during the virtual town hall with Clinton, and called for more support for women currently forced to adhere to stay at home orders with their abusers.
“Women are experiencing much of the pandemic’s devastating impacts more than anyone else,” Biden said. “Millions of women have lost their jobs or are having their hours slashed or are facing worries of just making ends meet ... Domestic violence survivors are at a heightened risk forced to shelter in place with their abusers. Women’s access to reproductive health care is increasingly in jeopardy.”
The Democratic Party’s consolidation behind Biden has been among the Biden campaign’s biggest messages going into the general election: that Biden can unify the party to beat President Donald Trump. Women voters play a big role in that; a recent CNN poll showed Trump losing to Biden among women by 30 points. Biden has already made a nod to that reality pledging to nominate a woman as his running mate.
So far Biden’s endorsers have kept quiet about the allegations made against him. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), a staunch advocate of the “Me Too” movement to take women’s accounts of sexual assault seriously, defended Biden Tuesday.
“I stand by Vice President Biden,” she told reporters. “He’s devoted his life to supporting women and he has vehemently denied this allegation.”
Beating Trump has become the primary focus. Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Biden a week after dropping out of the presidential race on April 8, acknowledged there were significant policy differences between his democratic socialism and Biden’s moderate views, but emphasized the need to put a Democrat in the White House over those differences.
Clinton’s endorsement also comes on the heels of another long-awaited endorsement from Obama. Obama publicly threw his support behind his close friend and former vice president on Tuesday, April 14, breaking his silence in the primary one day after Sanders made his endorsement.
“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. “And 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.”
Obama waited until Sanders dropped out of the race to endorse Biden, declining for months to insert himself into the primary. Sources close to the 44th president told CNN in early March that he would probably not offer any endorsements while Democratic candidates campaigned against each other because “weighing in now likely only divides things worse and weakens his standing for when the party will need it most.”
Biden is expected to receive the nomination at this year’s Democratic convention, which has been moved to mid-August due to the coronavirus pandemic.