BY: MOLLY NAGLE and JOHN VERHOVEK
(WASHINGTON) — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed former Vice President Joe Bidenwhen she appeared as the “special guest” at his virtual town hall Tuesday afternoon focused on the impacts of COVID-19 on women.
“I’m really thrilled to have my friend, the former senator, and former secretary of state, and a woman who should be president of the United States right now: Hillary Clinton,” Biden said during the event.
Clinton offered a lengthy and personal endorsement of Biden, saying she is “thrilled” to be a part of his campaign.
“I am thrilled to be part of your campaign to not only endorse you, but to help highlight a lot of the issues that are at stake in this presidential election,” Clinton told Biden.
Assailing her former rival for the presidency, Clinton said Biden has the “compassion,” the nation needs right now, adding that the country needs a “real president,” not someone that “plays one on TV.”
“I want to add my voice to the many who have endorsed you to be our president. Just think of what a difference it would make right now if we had a president who not only listened to the science, put facts over fiction, but brought us together,” she said. “Showed the kind of compassion and caring that we need from our president, and which Joe Biden has been exemplifying throughout his entire life. Think of what it would mean if we had a real president, not just somebody who plays one on TV, but somebody who gets up every morning worried about the people that he’s responsible for leading during this crisis.”
Towards the end of the event Biden also admitted he wished he were endorsing Clinton’s re-election bid, adding that she would have been much more “prepared” for the pandemic the nation now faces.
“Well, I’ll tell you one thing I would have done Joe, which you know so well. I would have read my daily intelligence briefings that were sounding the alarm since January, but apparently this president doesn’t do what we used to do,” Clinton said through laughter, which elicited a similar reaction from Biden. The comment was a reference to reports about early warnings about the coronavirus in daily presidential briefings.
Earlier in the day, the 2016 Democratic nominee announced her appearance at the event with a tweet, offering a “hint” that she would be the guest.
“A little hint about who the surprise guest will be for @JoeBiden’s 3pm ET town hall today,” Clinton tweeted Tuesday, along with a photo of the two in a half embrace in the Oval Office.
“(She’s excited,)” Clinton added in the tweet.
For his part, the former vice president retweeted Clinton, adding his own parenthetical “(I’m with her),” a nod to the former Democratic nominee’s slogan for her 2016 presidential campaign.
Clinton’s endorsement drew a nearly immediate reaction from the campaign of her formal rival for the presidency, Donald Trump.
“There is no greater concentration of Democrat establishment than Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton together. 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. President Trump beat her once and now he’ll beat her chosen candidate,” Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for the president’s re-election campaign, wrote in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
Clinton’s endorsement of Biden is a role reversal for the two Obama administration officials, who were once rivals in the 2008 Democratic primary, and expected to face off in the 2016 presidential race, before Biden announced he would not seek the nomination following the death of his son, Beau Biden in 2015.
Biden campaigned for Clinton throughout the 2016 presidential race, but offered criticism of Clinton’s campaign following her loss for not speaking more directly to middle class concerns throughout the race.
The former secretary of state’s announcement comes amid a string of high-profile endorsements in recent weeks for Biden, as the primary winds down and the party begins to coalesce around its presumptive nominee and prepare for the general election.
Former President Barack Obama, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have all announced endorsements of Biden earlier this month, seeking to quickly unite the party after an, at-times, messy and disjointed primary field that at one point included over two dozen major candidates.
While Clinton held back on an official endorsement during the primaries, she offered praise for Biden after his string of victories on Super Tuesday that kicked off his eventual ascent to presumptive nominee.
“I think what Joe’s victories on Super Tuesday showed is that he is building the kind of coalition that I had basically,” Clinton told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview in early March. “It’s a broad-based coalition. I finished, you know, most of the work I needed to do for the nomination on Super Tuesday, and then it kind of lingered on, and I think Joe is on track to doing exactly the same thing: putting together a coalition of voters who are energized.”
But Clinton’s endorsement also comes after she did not shy away from criticizing Sanders, with whom she engaged in a bitter fight over the Democratic nomination in 2016 that some point to as a contributing factor in her loss to Trump.
“I don’t think he’d be our strongest nominee, no,” Clinton told ABC News’ Linsey Davis in an interview last month.
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