The same day, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announced she’s dropping out of the Democratic presidential contest and endorsed Biden for the party’s nomination. And completing a barrage of support for the onetime veep, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), who ended his own bid for the White House last year, announced Monday that he’s throwing his weight behind Biden.
During a Biden campaign rally in Dallas, Buttigieg said he decided to support the former vice president’s campaign because it focused on “unity” and called a future Biden presidency one of “dignity” in the White House.
“I’m looking for a leader. I’m looking for a president who will bring us together,” Buttigieg said.
Biden, in turn, said he was deeply touched by the former mayor’s endorsement, comparing him to his son Beau Biden, who died in 2015.
“I look over at Pete during the debates, and I think, you know, that’s a Beau, because he has such enormous character,” Biden told supporters, calling the compliment the “highest” he could give. “Such intellectual capacity and such a commitment to other people. And folks, I can’t tell you how much it means to me that he would step up and endorse me.”
Klobuchar spoke at the rally before Biden took the stage, saying that she could not “think of a better way to end my campaign than joining his.”
“If you feel tired of the noise and the nonsense in our politics, and if you are tired of the extremes, you have a home with me. And I think you have a home with Joe Biden,” the Minnesota senator said. “It’s time for Americans to join hands instead of pointing fingers.”
Biden said he was “honored” to receive Klobuchar’s endorsement, joking that “Amy won all the debates.”
Before ending the rally, Biden introduced O’Rourke to the stage, commending the former congressman from El Paso for his grassroots Senate campaign in 2018 that “electrified this state and nation” and led to an overwhelming number of seats in Texas getting flipped from red to blue.
“Tomorrow, March 3, 2020, I will be casting my ballot for Joe Biden,” O’Rourke told a roaring Dallas crowd. “We need somebody who can beat Donald Trump. The man in the White House today poses an existential threat to this country, to our democracy, to free and fair elections, and we need someone who can beat him.”
O’Rourke, who made combating gun violence central to his presidential campaign after a white supremacist killed nearly two dozen people in his largely Latino hometown last year, spoke Monday of the need for a candidate who will tackle the issue head-on.
“Whether it was Sutherland Springs, or Santa Fe High School, or El Paso, Texas, at that Walmart this last August, or Midland-Odessa in the same year ― we understand the devastating toll of gun violence in America and in this state,” O’Rourke said.
“And we need someone who’s going to make sure that whether it is a mass shooting in a Walmart or in our schools, or the shootings that far too often take those in our communities of color ― one or two at a time, don’t even make the headlines or the front page or the news, we don’t even know their names ― you’re going to stand up for each and every one of us, and [against] gun violence in America with universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders and an end to the selling of weapons of war in our communities.”
The timing of the endorsements is auspicious. Tuesday is the most important day of the Democratic primary race, with 14 states — including Texas — holding nominating contests to pick who should face off against the expected GOP nominee, President Donald Trump, in November.
Without Buttigieg and Klobuchar on the ballot Tuesday, Biden will have a better chance of picking up additional support from moderate voters who aren’t on board with the more progressive agendas of candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
Buttigieg suspended his campaign on Sunday, having finished in fourth place in the South Carolina primaries after failing to secure any notable support among Black voters. Biden fared far better in the state, securing key support among the influential voting bloc and surging to first place. He had previously faced underwhelming results in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
“Today is a moment of truth,” Buttigieg said when announcing the end of his candidacy Sunday night. “We have a responsibility to consider the effect of remaining in this race any further. Our goal has always been to help unify Americans to defeat Donald Trump and to win the era for our values.”
The former mayor pledged to support his fellow candidates at the time, saying he planned to do “everything in my power to make sure that we have a new Democratic president come January.”
Biden cheered Buttigieg’s historic campaign after he ended his bid, saying it was based on “courage, compassion, and honesty.”
“We will be a better country for his continued service,” Biden wrote of Buttigieg on Twitter. “This is just the beginning of his time on the national stage.”
Biden picked up endorsements from several other high-profile Democrats on Monday, including Rep. Jennifer Wexton (Va.), former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), former Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.
“There is no one kinder, more empathetic and caring than [Biden],” Rice tweeted Monday afternoon. “He will lead America with the same deep compassion and decency.”
The former vice president has emerged emboldened from his landslide victory in South Carolina, attempting to paint Sanders in particular as controversial and too great a risk for the party.
“This is no great secret to anybody: You can’t run as an independent socialist ― now a democratic socialist ― and ... expect to do very well in the states we have to win,” Biden said on “Fox News Sunday,” although he said he would support Sanders if he wins the nomination. “I believe that if I’m on the top of the ticket, we’ll win back the Senate and we’ll keep the House. Look, the people aren’t looking for revolution, they’re looking for results.”
Sanders, meanwhile, remains a political and financial powerhouse. His campaign said Sunday that it raised some $46.5 million in February, by far the greatest amount of any Democratic candidate.
“Let me be very clear, it is no surprise they do not want me to become president because our administration will transform this country to create an economy and a government that works for all of the people, not just the 1%,” Sanders told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday in response to the consolidation of the moderate vote for Biden.
“It will not be the same old same old,” he continued. “But the other reason I am running is to defeat Donald Trump. And the fact of the matter is if we want to defeat Donald Trump, we’re going to need a campaign that has energy and excitement that can speak to working people, young people, people who have given up on the political establishment.”