One of the best campaigners in the Democratic Party has been absent from the campaign trail this spring, refraining from endorsing Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders and letting the voters have their say. That ended Thursday, when President Obama enthusiastically endorsed Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in a YouTube video released by Hillary for America. Calling her the most qualified candidate ever, Obama said he cannot wait to campaign for Clinton in the general election.
In the video, he lauded Clinton for working with him as secretary of state after he beat her in the 2008 primary, calling it a "testament to her character." Obama explained how he saw up close her hard work and dedication to the American people. He spoke highly of her judgment, toughness, and "commitment to our values." He said that Clinton has always been driven by "determination to give every American a fair shot at opportunity." And then came the big announcement:
So I want those of you who've been with me since the beginning of this incredible journey to be the first to know that I'm with her. I am fired up, and I cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary.
The video was released shortly after Obama's meeting with Bernie Sanders at the White House, during which the president reportedly pushed Sanders to accept Clinton's win and help unite the party. The Vermont senator has not suspended his campaign, despite Clinton's formidable lead in both pledged delegates and superdelegates leading up to July's Democratic National Convention. He did, however, say after the meeting that he would do whatever it takes to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president.
Sanders also thanked the president and Vice President Biden for their impartiality throughout the primary race. "They said in the beginning is that they would not put their thumb on the scales, and they kept their word, and I appreciate that very, very much," Sanders said. The only remaining contest is in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, and the results will not change the outcome, as Clinton's delegate lead is too large.
Clinton herself responded on Twitter moments after her campaign posted the video. In a tweet signed "H" — which means she penned the message herself —Clinton wrote, "Honored to have you with me, @POTUS. I'm fired up and ready to go!"
The presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, was quick to respond too, writing on Twitter, "Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama—but nobody else does!" The Clinton social media team trumped him with a perfect burn: "Delete your account."
Senior Democrats told CNN that they didn't expect Obama to take to the campaign trail or make any joint appearances with Clinton until after the D.C. primary is over. Taping an episode of The Tonight Show Wednesday, Obama laid out for Jimmy Fallon what kind of role he can have in supporting the Democratic candidate:
The main role I'm gonna be playing in this process is — to remind the American people that this is a serious job. You know, this is not reality TV. I've seen the decisions that have to be made. And the work that has to be done. And I have a lot of confidence that if the American people are reminded of what's at stake and all the incredible important issues that we gotta get right, that they're gonna make a good choice.
Obama was clearly targeting Trump with his comments. In the endorsement video, Obama said that the coming election in November will likely try the ideals that the Democratic Party and America stands for — "an America that is strong and fair, and then gives every child the same chance we had." Obama is convinced that if people can come together, Clinton can win. And then "we'll build on the progress that we've made for this country that we love." Even Sanders should be able to get behind that.