Former Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday formally endorsed Joe Biden for president, arguing he would be the FDR to Trump’s Herbert Hoover.
Holder, who served as President Barack Obama’s chief law enforcement officer between 2009 and 2015, predicted Biden would be a champion for criminal justice reform if elected to the White House.
“I think you will see him deal with the whole problem of mass incarceration and continuing the work that we did during the Obama-Biden years to ask questions about the ways in which we have dealt with criminal justice issues in the nation, like, do we need to incarcerate as many people as we do? And are there alternatives to incarceration?” Holder said in an interview with the Washington Post.
The close Obama ally compared Biden to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the four-term Democrat president who was beloved for his expansive “New Deal” government program, which economists and historians now argue worsened and prolonged the Great Depression.
“He has got within him the capacity to be what is demanded in the moment,” Holder said. “And that is to unify the nation but also to be bold. We need someone who is a Roosevelt opposed to a Hoover. We need a Biden opposed to a Trump.”
Early in his White House campaign, Biden garnered backlash from fellow Democrat contenders for helping to write and pass the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act while chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Failed presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NY) has said the crime bill was responsible for “mass incarceration” and “inflicted immeasurable harm on black, brown and low-income communities.”
Before formally jumping into the race, Biden apologized for his role in the crime bill during a speech on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“You know I’ve been in this fight for a long time. It goes not just to voting rights. It goes to the criminal justice system,” he said at the National Action Network’s Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast. “I haven’t always been right. I know we haven’t always gotten things right, but I’ve always tried.”
Holder’s endorsement also comes days after he said that sexual assault allegations leveled by Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer to Biden, should be “taken seriously.”
“It’s interesting that the people who are trying to fan this thing are the very people who support Donald Trump, and of course, who say nothing about allegations that have been raised, I think very credibly against Trump for a number of women over a great — a long period of time,” Holder said on Friday’s broadcast of HBO’s Real Time. “All of these allegations have to be taken seriously, people who raise them should be treated sensitively. I’ve known Joe Biden for 20, 25 years, what has been described is inconsistent with the person who I’ve come to know and who I’ve worked with.”
Holder briefly considered a run for the presidency, but ruled out the move in March, opting inside to focus on redistricting activism as chairman of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.