The 2020 presidential race is moving into its final stages after a wild primary season. As the last candidate remaining and the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden has the endorsements of nearly every other Democratic primary candidate. On Tuesday, April 14, Biden added another coveted endorsement to his arsenal, when former President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden and finally made his position clear.
In a video message published on Tuesday, Obama began by addressing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. He then explained why he thinks Biden would be the best person to lead in a time of crisis. "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 said in his video message. "It also has to be reflected in our national government ... And that's why I'm so proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States."
Obama went on to highlight Biden's role in helping him address the 2009 H1N1 outbreak and the 2014 ebola epidemic. Biden himself has also pointed to his experience during the swine flu and ebola outbreaks in order to pitch his coronavirus plan. "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.
But Obama's video was more than just an endorsement of Biden. It was also a message to progressives who had rallied around Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Although Sanders suspended his campaign on April 8, Democrats remain concerned about a divided Democratic party. Sanders himself endorsed Biden on April 13. Both Biden and Obama have reportedly been working behind the scenes with Sanders, as well as with Massachusetts senator and former presidential contender Elizabeth Warren, to discuss policy and electoral strategy. During his video endorsement, Obama acknowledged just how much of an impact Sanders' movement has had on the Democratic Party and the country.
"Bernie's an American original, a man who has devoted his life to giving voice working people's hopes, dreams, and frustrations," Obama said. "The ideas he's championed ... will be critical in moving America in a direction of progress and hope."
Sanders and Biden are already working together. During Sanders' endorsement on April 13, the two announced they would establish six policy working groups to focus on issues that have been central to the 2020 election — education, criminal justice, climate change, immigration, the economy, and health care, per ABC News.
Sanders made it clear even after endorsing Biden that the two of them still have significant differences, but he expressed his hope that the joint task forces would "work out real solutions to these very, very important problems" like health care reform.
Obama concluded his video by calling for "real structural change," including an expansion of Medicare and a return to the Paris climate agreement — but he also called on Americans to get more involved in politics. "Our country's future hangs on this election," he said. According to Obama, Republicans have threatened basic American principles like voting rights and transparency, and to respond appropriately, "the Democratic Party will have to be bold."
With a diverse and unusually wide pool of candidates initially running for the Democratic nomination, Obama's endorsement has been the subject of a lot of speculation. The former president largely remained on the sidelines as the primary field thinned out, but now that Obama has officially endorsed Biden, he could be a powerful surrogate. Not only can Obama help unite Democrats against Republican President Donald Trump, CNN reported, but also he can speak to the importance of this election in the long term.
"This crisis has reminded us that government matters. It's reminded us that good government matters," Obama said in his video. "In other words, elections matter. Right now, we need Americans of goodwill to unite in a great awakening." As the November 2020 election draws closer, Obama's support could have a tangible impact on Biden's chances against Trump.