Former President Barack Obama has finally weighed in on the 2020 race. On Tuesday (April 14), he formally endorsed his vice president, Joe Biden, who stands to be the presumptive Democratic nominee.
In a video message posted to Biden's YouTube page, the 44th president began by addressing what he called "the obvious": that the novel coronavirus pandemic means "these aren't normal times."
"Michelle and I hope that you and your families are safe and well. If you've lost somebody to this virus or if someone in your life is sick or if you're one of the millions suffering economic hardship, please know that you're in our prayers. Please know that you're not alone because now's the time for all of us to help where we can and to be there for each other as neighbors, as coworkers, and as fellow citizens. In fact, over the past weeks, we've seen plenty of examples of the kind of courage, kindness, and selflessness that we're going to need to get through. One of the most difficult times in our history, Michelle and I have been amazed at the incredible bravery of our medical professionals who are putting their lives on the line to save others, the public servants and health officials battling this disease, the workers taking risks every day to keep our economy running, and everyone who's making their own sacrifice at home with their families all for the greater good. "
The former president then turned the conversation to the 2020 election, and why it's crucial to have leadership that is "guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace." It was then that he formally endorsed Biden, with a ringing letter of recommendation: "Choosing Joe to be my vice president was one of the best decisions I ever made and it became a close friend and I believe Joe has all the qualities we need in a president right now."
"Joe has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times and help us 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 added.
In the speech, Obama also shouted out former candidate Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who ended his campaign last week and endorsed Biden during a livestream yesterday (April 13). "He and I haven't always agreed on everything, but we've always shared a conviction that we have to make America a fairer, more just more equitable society," Obama said of the Vermont senator. "We both know that nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change. And the idea is he's championed the energy and enthusiasm. He inspired, especially in young people, will be critical in moving America in a direction of progress and help."
"There's too much unfinished business for us to just look backwards," Obama added. "We have to look to the future. Bernie understands that, and Joe understands that. It's one of the reasons that Joe already has what is the most progressive platform of any major party nominee in history. Because even before the pandemic turned the world upside down, it was already clear that we needed real structural change. The vast inequality is created by the new economy are easier to see now, but they existed long before this pandemic hit."
Though Obama did not mention President Donald Trump by name, he did call out the "Republicans occupying the white house and running the U.S. Senate," ostensibly also referring to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who "are not interested in progress. They're interested in power. They've shown themselves willing to kick millions off their health insurance and eliminate preexisting condition protections for millions more. Even in the middle of this public health crisis, even as they're willing to spend a trillion on tax cuts for the wealthy, they've given polluters unlimited power to poison our air and our water and denied the science of climate change just as they denied the science of pandemics. Repeatedly, they've disregarded American principles of rule of law and voting rights and transparency, basic norms that previous administrations observed, regardless of party principles that are the bedrock of our democracy."
"So our country's future hangs on this election and it won't be easy," he said, rallying Democrats and progressives alike against what he called "the other side," whose "propaganda network" he said displays "little regard for the truth. On the other hand, pandemics have a way of cutting through a lot of noise and spin to remind us of what is real and what is important. This crisis has reminded us that government matters. It's reminded us that good government matters, that facts and science matter, that the rule of law matters. But having leaders who are informed and honest and seek to bring people together rather than drive them apart, those kinds of leaders matter."
"Now's the time to fight for what we believe in," he said in his speech's closing. "Make a plan for how you are going to get involved. Keep taking care of yourself and your families and each other. Keep believing in the possibilities of a better world. And I will see you on the campaign trail as soon as I can."