Former United States President Barack Obama on Tuesday endorsed his former vice president Joe Biden as the Democratic presidential candidate for the November elections, saying he can unify and "heal" America which is struggling through some of its darkest moments.
"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 said in a nearly 12-minute video filmed at his Washington-area home and posted online.
Biden, 77, will be formally nominated by the Democratic party during the National Convention in Wisconsin in August.
This past week he emerged as the presumptive nominee, as his main rival Senator Bernie Sanders withdrew from the race. A day earlier Sanders endorsed him.
With this, decks are now clear for a direct contest between Biden and incumbent President Donald Trump, who is seeking his re-election. Under US laws, an individual can serve a maximum of two four-year term.
Obama's endorsement of Biden is expected to give a big boost to his presidential campaign at a time when questions are being raised over the handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic crisis that has resulted in the death of more than 23,000 Americans and have brought the country's economy to a standstill.
"Now Joe will be a better candidate for having run the gauntlet of primaries and caucuses alongside one of the most impressive Democratic fields ever. Each of our candidates were talented and decent, with a track record of accomplishment, smart ideas, and serious visions for the future,” Obama said in his endorsement video.
Biden served as his vice president for eight years.
Obama said, Biden was there as his administration rebuilt from the Great Recession and rescued the American auto industry.
"He was the one asking what every policy would do for the middle class and everyone striving to get into the middle class. That's why I asked him to implement the Recovery Act, which saved millions of jobs and got people back on their feet – because Joe gets stuff done,” he asserted.
Obama is expected to campaign aggressively for Biden in the coming months.
“Joe helped me manage H1N1 and prevent the Ebola epidemic from becoming the type of pandemic we're seeing now. He helped me restore America's standing and leadership in the world on the other threats of our time, like nuclear proliferation and climate change,” he said.
Obama said Biden has the character and the experience to guide the country through one of the darkest times and heal through a long recovery.
"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,” he said.
The Trump campaign in a statement said that Obama had no other option but to endorse Biden.
"Obama spent much of the last five years urging Joe Biden not to run for president out of fear that he would embarrass himself. Now that Biden is the only candidate left in the Democrat field, Obama has no other choice but to support him,” said Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 Campaign Manager.
"Even Bernie Sanders beat him to it. Obama was right in the first place: Biden is a bad candidate who will embarrass himself and his party. President Trump will destroy him,” Parscale said.
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said that the party is now uniting around Biden.
"This is the most important election of our lifetime because Donald Trump is the most dangerous president of our lifetime. He has failed every test of presidential leadership, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, and his incompetence has cost people their jobs, their businesses, and even their lives. We need to defeat Donald Trump,” Perez said.
“And that means we can't afford to have anyone stay on the sidelines. We need everyone in this fight, working together to put Democratic leadership back in the White House and in seats down the ballot in every corner of the country,” he said.