“I’m so proud to endorse Joe Biden for President of the United States. 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 long message, which has received 1 million views in the first 39 minutes it was posted, according to data from Twitter.
Obama praised Biden in language strikingly similar to that used in his 2017 speech honoring the former vice president with the Medal of Freedom.
“Through all his trials, he’s never once forgotten the values or the moral fiber that his parents passed on to him, and that made him who he is. That’s what steels his faith – in God, in America, and in all of us,” Obama said.
A senior advisor to Biden previously told ABC News that they anticipated that Obama’s endorsement would be done in a way so that “everybody will know how strongly he feels about this.”
Biden reacted to Obama’s endorsement in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, writing: “Barack — This endorsement means the world to Jill and me. We’re going to build on the progress we made together, and there’s no one I’d rather have standing by my side.”
The video message went far beyond a simple endorsement of the former vice president--it also served as a message to the Democratic Party over all about the need to unify ahead of the election in November. Obama specifically praised Sen. Bernie Sanders in the video for his impact on the party.
“Bernie’s an American original – a man who has devoted his life to giving voice to working people’s hopes, dreams, and frustrations. 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 ideas 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 hope.”
The former president also nodded to a major theme of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign, arguing that “even before the [COVID-19] pandemic turned the world upside down, it was already clear that we needed real structural change.”
While Obama did not explicitly mention President Donald Trump in the video released Tuesday, he issued a stinging rebuke of the GOP, saying that “the Republicans occupying the White House and running the U.S. Senate are not interested in progress. They’re interested in power.”
“So our country’s future hangs on this election. And it won’t be easy. The other side has a massive war chest. The other side has a propaganda network with 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,” Obama added.
Referencing the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Obama added that he believes Biden has the “character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times and heal us through a long recovery,” and surround himself with a team that can guide the country through the ongoing pandemic.
“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. That having leaders who are informed, and honest, and seek to bring people together rather than drive them apart – those kind of leaders matter,” Obama said.
Obama also acknowledged the ideological shift in the party since he held the presidency, saying that he would not have run the “same race,” that he did during his successful 2008 campaign.
“I could not be prouder of the incredible progress that we made together during my presidency. But if I were running today, I wouldn’t run the same race or have the same platform as I did in 2008. The world is different; there’s too much unfinished business for us to just look backwards. We have to look to the future. Bernie understands that. And Joe understands that,” Obama said.
Obama also shared his support for Biden’s plan to expand his signature legislation, Obamacare, as the party continues to grapple with divisions over the issue of health care, and progressive calls for a single-payer system.
“We have to protect the gains we made with the Affordable Care Act, but it’s also time to go further. We should make plans affordable for everyone, provide everyone with a public option, expand Medicare, and finish the job so that health care isn’t just a right, but a reality for everybody.”
While the campaign trail remains off limits as the COVID-19 crisis continues, Obama concluded his video by telling viewers he will “see you on the campaign trail as soon as [he] can.”
The announcement comes as Biden has continued to consolidate support within the Democratic party as the presumptive nominee. Sources familiar with former President Obama’s thinking had previously said he would hold off on an endorsement during the Democratic primary, citing his belief that “ a robust primary in 2007 and 2008 not only made him a better general election candidate, but a better president, too.”
Biden also weighed in on the former president’s endorsement shortly after entering the 2020 race, saying he asked the former president not to throw his support behind him.
“I asked President Obama not to endorse me,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware the day he announced his candidacy. “Whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits.”
The endorsement will be the second show of party unity in the last two days following Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ announcement yesterday that he is backing Biden’s bid..
“Today, I am asking all Americans, I'm asking every Democrat, I'm asking every Independent, I'm asking a lot of Republicans to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy -- which I endorse,” Sanders said Monday on a joint livestream event on the nation’s economic response to the novel coronavirus.
Obama himself has spoken with several former 2020 candidates, including Sanders, in recent weeks about how to best position the Democratic Party to win in November, according to a source familiar with the conversations, and stressed that defeating Trump is “paramount.”