Barack Obama backs Joe Biden for U.S. president in video message

Former President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden in a video on Tuesday, giving the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee a boost from the party’s biggest fundraiser and one of its most popular figures.

In a nearly 12-minute video filmed at his Washington-area home and posted online, Obama said, “Choosing Joe to be my Vice President was one of the best decisions I ever made, and he became a close friend. And I believe Joe has all the qualities we need in a President right now.”

Obama and Biden are close friends from their two terms in the White House, when Biden served as vice-president. Biden leaned heavily on his affiliation with the former president throughout the Democratic primary, framing his pitch as an extension of Obama’s presidency. In recent weeks he has told donors he’s been in touch with Obama about his vice-presidential pick.

The endorsement marks Obama’s return to presidential politics more than three years after leaving the White House. He rarely talks directly about his successor, President Donald Trump, and avoided intervening in the Democratic primary. The field at one point spanned nearly two dozen candidates and Obama offered private counsel to anyone who asked it, but made no efforts to bolster an individual campaign — including Biden’s.

Obama’s endorsement, however, comes considerably earlier than in 2016. He backed Hillary Clinton in June of that year as her contentious primary fight with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dragged on.

This cycle, the primary came to a much cleaner and quicker end, with Sanders endorsing Biden on Monday.

The former vice-president now has the support of all of his former Democratic primary rivals except for Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts senator is expected to formally throw her support behind Biden soon, according to a person familiar with her plans.

Two other prominent Democrats who have yet to formally endorse Biden are former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 nominee. Hillary Clinton has been in regular touch with Biden, including several times since Sanders dropped out of the race, according to an aide.

Obama has been an obvious shadow throughout the 2020 Democratic primary. Biden coined the “Obama-Biden administration” moniker when he’d talk about various accomplishments.

“You’d think Mike was Barack’s vice-president,” Biden once quipped to donors.

For his part, Biden leaned even more heavily into Obama as primary voting began. Aiming at Sanders, the self-described “democratic socialist,” and billionaire Bloomberg, who’d been elected New York City mayor as a Republican, Biden said in a Feb. 21 interview with The Associated Press that “they’re not bad folks. They’re just not Democrats.”

Campaigning before increasingly diverse audiences in Nevada and South Carolina, Biden ramped up his recollections of when Obama tapped him for the ticket in 2008. Biden recalled Inauguration Day 2009, waiting for the train in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, “for a black man to pick me up ? for the two of us to be sworn in as president and vice-president of the United States.”

Often drawing nods and vocal affirmation from his audiences, Biden said he had thought of that day as a national victory over institutional racism. Now, in the Trump era, Biden calls that conclusion a mistake.

“I thought we could defeat hate,” he said, but, “it never goes away.“

On Feb. 29, Biden took the stage in South Carolina to celebrate a nearly 30-point victory that would propel him past Sanders and everyone.

He dusted off a line he’d used many times before: “I’m a proud Obama-Biden Democrat,” Biden said.

Obama was watching. His sideline approach nearing its end, he called his former vice-president that night to congratulate him on his victory.

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