Vice President Joe Biden warmly praised Hillary Clinton’s defeated opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday afternoon, and hours later, grudgingly endorsed Clinton.
Biden’s tepid endorsement of Clinton came well after President Barack Obama backed the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. “I’m with her,” Obama said. “I am fired up. And I can’t wait to get out there and campaign with Hillary.”
On Thursday afternoon, Biden warmly congratulated Sanders. “After an afternoon meeting at the Naval Observatory, the vice president congratulated Sanders for ‘energizing so many new voters and bringing them into the Democratic Party,'” according to The Hill, whose headline was “Biden waiting on Clinton endorsement.”
A spokesman for Biden told The Hill that Sanders and Biden “discussed the need for the national conversation to continue to focus on the defining fight of our time: retaining and expanding access to the middle class, and the need for the Democratic Party to continue to embrace these new voters as we work toward victory in November.”
Long after Obama endorsed Clinton much earlier in the day, Politico reported late Thursday evening that Biden finally joined the president in endorsing – although tepidly – the presumptive Democratic nominee. “Biden, speaking Thursday night at the American Constitution Society convention a few blocks from the White House, didn’t squarely endorse Clinton,” Politico reported.
“But he made his preferences clear, saying in an aside during remarks on the need to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, ‘whoever the next president is, and in my view, God willing, it’ll be Secretary Clinton.'”
Clinton has the required number of pledged delegates to gain her party’s nomination, but Sanders and his large network of supporters are vowing to keep fighting till the Democratic convention in July in Philadelphia. Sanders’ impressive network of grassroots followers around the country are planning for a contentious convention, both on floor of the convention hall and outside.
By associating himself with Sanders, Biden could help mute the conflict between Clinton and Sanders’ alienated supporters.