Hillary Clinton, the first woman to become a major party’s presidential nominee, endorsed Joe Biden’s White House bid, continuing Democrats’ efforts to coalesce around the former vice president as he takes on US President Donald Trump.
Clinton made her announcement during a Biden campaign town hall to discuss the coronavirus and its effect on women on Tuesday. Without mentioning Trump by name, Clinton assailed the Republican president’s handling of the pandemic and hailed Biden’s experience and temperament in comparison.
“Just think of what a difference it would make right now if we had a president who not only listened to the science … but brought us together,” said Clinton, who lost the 2016 presidential race to Trump.
“Think of what it would mean if we had a real president,” Clinton continued, rather than a man who “plays one on TV.” Biden, as a former vice president and six-term senator, “has been preparing for this moment his entire life,” Clinton said. “This is a moment when we need a leader, a president like Joe Biden.”
With her historic candidacy, Clinton remains a powerful – and complex – figure in American life. Her 2016 campaign inspired many women, and her loss to Trump resonates to this day. The female candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary often faced skepticism that a woman could win the White House.
Biden has pledged to select a woman as his vice president.
Having competed against Trump, Clinton could offer Biden unique insight as he prepares for the November general election. Her endorsement is the latest example of leaders from across the party’s ideological spectrum rallying behind Biden.
In recent weeks, the former vice president has picked up support from former President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and leading progressives such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Hillary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, has not yet publicly endorsed Biden and has kept a lower profile during the Trump era.
The swift unification around Biden stands in stark contrast to four years ago, when Hillary Clinton was unable to win over a significant portion of the electorate’s left flank. Sanders battled her to the end of the primary calendar and waged a bitter fight over the party platform before endorsing her and campaigning for her in the fall. Hillary and Bill Clinton have argued that Sanders’ push deeply wounded her campaign against Trump.
The Trump campaign sought to foment the same tension on Tuesday by arguing that the Democratic establishment is again asserting itself.
“There is no greater concentration of Democrat establishment than Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton together,” Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “Both of them carry the baggage of decades in the Washington swamp and both of them schemed to keep the Democrat nomination from Bernie Sanders.”
Despite overlapping for decades as Democratic heavyweights, the Clintons and Biden have never been especially close allies. Biden’s nearest alignment with Hillary Clinton came during Obama’s first term, when Biden was vice president and Clinton was secretary of state.
Both had sought the Democratic nomination in 2008 – and both were dogged by their 2002 votes as senators in favour of the war powers resolution that President George W. Bush used to invade Iraq in 2003.