Former United States vice-president Joe Biden has been formally endorsed by long-time rival Bernie Sanders, a move that may help unify the Democratic Party ahead of a general election against Republican President Donald Trump.
- Mr Biden called Senator Sanders “the most powerful voice for a fair and more just America”
- The Vermont senator suspended his presidential campaign last week
- Mr Biden has been forced to move the bulk of his campaign online due to coronavirus
Senator Sanders, the progressive standard-bearer who last week suspended his presidential campaign, joined Mr Biden — the likely Democratic nominee — 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 Senator 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, Mr Biden had built up a commanding delegate edge against Senator Sanders, leading the Vermont senator to declare last week he saw no viable path to the nomination.
Even so, it remained unclear how soon Senator Sanders, who is especially popular with liberal young voters, would rally behind Mr Biden, whose support comes chiefly from the party’s older moderates.
“Your endorsement means a great deal,” Mr Biden said to Senator Sanders as the two appeared side-by-side on Mr Biden’s campaign website.
He called Senator Sanders “the most powerful voice for a fair and more just America”.
Even before Senator Sanders’s endorsement, Mr Biden’s campaign had begun to reach out to progressive advocacy groups centred around issues such as climate change and racial justice in a bid to the heal the longtime tension between the moderate and progressive camps within the party.
Mr Trump has worked on social media to try and keep Senator Sanders’s supporters away from Mr Biden, suggesting that Senator Sanders had been forced out by the Democratic establishment.
With social distancing in widespread effect, Mr Biden has been forced to move the bulk of his campaign to virtual events and has watched as the global pandemic had relegated the 2020 presidential race to the back burner.
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