Former Vice President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, was formally endorsed on Monday by longtime rival Bernie Sanders, a move that may help unify the Democratic Party ahead of a general-election matchup against Republican President Donald Trump.
Sanders, the progressive firebrand who last week suspended his presidential campaign, joined Biden in an online campaign event, citing the coronavirus outbreak as a reason for the party to come together.
That made for a stark contrast to 2016, when Sanders waited until the eve of the Democratic National Convention in the summer to support the then-nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Before the pandemic brought the Democratic primary contest to a virtual halt, Biden had built up a commanding delegate edge over Sanders, leading the Vermont senator to declare last week he saw no viable path to the nomination.
Even so, it remained unclear how soon Sanders, who is especially popular with liberal young voters, would rally behind Biden, whose support comes chiefly from the party’s older moderates.
In the online event, Sanders called on Democrats, independents and Republicans “to come together in this campaign to support (Biden’s) candidacy, which I endorse, to make certain that we defeat somebody who I believe ... is the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country.”
Biden responded by terming Sanders “the most powerful voice for a fair and more just America.”
With social distancing in widespread effect, Biden has been forced to move the bulk of his campaign to online events and has watched as the global pandemic had relegated the 2020 presidential race to the back burner.
The Sanders endorsement gives him a jolt of energy and attention at time when his campaign could use it.
Biden said he and Sanders would develop six policy working groups on issues including the economy, education, criminal justice, immigration and climate change to develop solutions to problems in the United States.