Obama to endorse Biden, after months on 2020 campaign sidelines

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday plans to formally endorse Joe Biden – his vice president and running mate through two terms and presidential campaigns – in the looming race against President Trump, stepping off the sidelines after withholding support for any candidate for months.Multiple sources familiar with the situation confirmed to Fox News that an endorsement video from Obama will be released later Tuesday.SANDERS ENDORSES BIDEN AFTER DROPPING BIDAnother source told Fox News, “Stay tuned,” when asked about a looming endorsement for Biden.Obama’s past reluctance to back Biden even as the former vice president came closer to the nomination had raised awkward questions about their relationship, but those close to the former president had suggested he was keeping his distance so as not to meddle in the primary process.A Democratic strategist close to Obama’s inner circle told Fox News last week that “at the beginning of the primary process, President Obama made clear that in order for the Democratic Party to be successful in November, Democratic voters would have to select their nominee.”But now that Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee, Obama is entering the political ring anew.The source emphasized that the former president made it clear at the start of the primary process that once it was over, he would “campaign vigorously in the general election.”The expected video comes a day after Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was Biden’s last remaining primary rival until he dropped out last week, officially endorsed the former vice president.The backing by Sanders — the democratic socialist firebrand from Vermont — will help Biden as he tries to win over Sanders’ legions of younger and progressive supporters.Fox News confirmed recently that Obama and Biden have held several conversations in the past couple of weeks. And Biden gave details on one of those conversations – telling donors at a virtual fundraiser earlier this month that he had recently asked his old boss for advice on choosing a running mate. “So I called President Obama, not as to who but how soon you have to start,” the former vice president shared.SANDERS SUSPENDS CAMPAIGN The backing by Obama will also help Biden as he tries to unite a fractious party, as he prepares to challenge Trump in the general election. According to most recent polls of the former president, Obama remains extremely popular among Democrats. Obama, Biden, Sanders, and Democratic Party leaders are all trying to avoid a repeat of the 2016 election, when Sanders endorsed nominee Hillary Clinton in July of that year after a long and bitter primary battle. But plenty of his supporters either stood on the sidelines or voted for a different candidate in November, helping Trump to upset Clinton and win the White House.“Now that the primary season is over, President Obama can play the role of unifier-in-chief within the Democratic Party,” said Mo Elleithee, the founding executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service and a Fox News contributor.Elleithee, a senior spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who later served as communications director for the Democratic National Committee, said that Obama’s also “an important voice during these tumultuous times. As polling shows that President Trump’s handling of this crisis is sliding, President Obama can help make the case for Joe Biden’s very different approach.”Obama’s presence will likely also come in handy with fundraising and give a needed boost of energy to the Biden campaign.While political pundits agree that an active Obama can only help Biden as well as down-ballot candidates this autumn, in the end there’s only so much a surrogate can do. Obama aggressively stumped for Clinton, but the Democratic nominee came up short.Fox News’ Jon Decker, Madeleine Rivera, and Allie Raffa contributed to this report.
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