Former President Barack Obama will endorse Joe Biden later today in a video message, offering why he believes Biden is the candidate needed at this moment of crisis in America, a person close to the former president says.
The endorsement reunites the former running mates and positions Obama, whose endorsement of Biden was seen as a forgone conclusion once Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race last week, to be one of Biden’s most powerful surrogates in the race against President Donald Trump.
It also marks the public re-emergence of Obama into the political arena. The former president kept a low public profile throughout much of the Democratic nomination fight, but he was active behind the scenes.
Mr. Obama has been considerably more engaged in the campaign’s denouement than has been previously revealed.
For months, he had kept in close contact with senior party officials, in hopes of preventing a repeat of the protracted and nasty 2016 primary race.
Then, in the weeks after it became clear that Mr. Biden was the party’s near-certain nominee, Mr. Obama — telling a friend he needed to “accelerate the endgame” — had at least four long conversations with his former vice president’s remaining rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. Mr. Obama’s efforts to ease the senator out of the race played a significant role in his decision to end his bid and, on Monday, endorse Mr. Biden, according to people close to the Vermont independent.
By that time, Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama had already begun hashing out the thorny questions of how, when and where to deploy a former president thrust into an unfamiliar role as his sidekick’s sidekick.
Mr. Biden’s team knew better than to ask Mr. Obama for his overt support during the primary campaign. But they felt he might have done more to spare them a few tribulations, and were incensed that some former Obama advisers, especially David Axelrod, repeatedly questioned Mr. Biden’s viability. When Naomi Biden, the candidate’s granddaughter, took to Twitter in February to describe the former Obama aide as “a jerk with a microphone,” cheering could be heard at the campaign’s headquarters in Philadelphia, according to a person who was present.
“Obama kept his powder dry, and that gave him credibility, which made all the difference,” said Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, who served as labor secretary under Mr. Obama.
Now, with the primary campaign over, Mr. Biden and his aides are eager to deploy the former president as quickly as possible, especially on fund-raising, as they race to compete with President Trump’s small-donor juggernaut.
CNN and New York Times