Hillary Clinton endorses Joe Biden to challenge Donald Trump
Photo Credit: AFP

New York: Hillary Clinton, who was defeated by President Donald Trump in 2016, has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden to challenge him in November in a much-changed environment.

"I want to add my voice to the many who have endorsed you to be our president," Clinton told him on Tuesday. Clinton was among the last holdouts among Democratic Party leaders in endorsing Biden, the only major candidate left standing in the party race for the nomination to run in the presidential election this year.

By inserting herself into the race for the Democratic Party nomination with the backing of the party establishment, the former secretary of state had blocked Biden's chances of running in 2016 after having served two terms as vice president. Now she said, "I wish he were president right now but I can't wait until he is -- if all of us do our part to support the kind of person that we want back in the White House."

Biden responded, "I really appreciate your friendship. What a, just a wonderful personal endorsement." They spoke from their homes at a virtual town hall meeting on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on women during which Clinton made the endorsement.

Before the meeting, Clinton tweeted cryptically, "A little hint about who the surprise guest will be for @JoeBiden's 3pm ET (US East Time) town hall today: (She's excited.)"

Criticising Trump, she said, "Out of this terrible tragedy of the pandemic and the loss of life and loss of income and everything else that we're suffering through, this is a moment of reckoning,"

Former President Barack Obama endorsed Biden, who was his vice president, on April 14. Biden has received the endorsements of all the major challengers in the race for the Democratic Party nomination, who have all dropped out. When the last rival standing, Senator Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign and endorsed him on April 8, Biden sealed his nomination with only a formal endorsement at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Recognising this fact, the New York State Elections Board cancelled the state's primary scheduled for June. Although he has endorsed Biden, Sanders stays on the ballot in the intra-party elections and wants to use his showing as a bargaining chip in drafting the party's election manifesto.

Sanders campaign adviser Jeff Weaver called the cancellation, an "outrage, a blow to American democracy, and must be overturned." Despite the protest, more significant than Clinton's are the endorsements by Sanders, a self-described socialist, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, another candidate from the left for the party's nomination, who dropped out.

Their endorsements could rally the party's left-progressive ranks around Biden, the centrist establishment candidate like Clinton was. The party leaders have to figure out how to conduct the convention scheduled for August during the coronavirus pandemic.

Party Chairman Tom Perez has said, "We expect to hold an in-person convention in Milwaukee. We are planning for that.” But he added, "At the same time, we do not put our public health heads in the sand."

Anthony Fauci, the nation's foremost expert on the COVID-19 pandemic, has said that it is possible to hold the covention that was moved from July to August by taking several precautions with the physical presence of delegates.

Tuesday's town hall meeting was an attempt by Biden to get media airing, which has been monopolised by Trump through the daily briefings by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. In performances running as long as two hours, Trump has diverged from the pandemic to political and campaign-style statements.

Criticising Trump's media show, Clinton said, "Think about what a difference it would make if we had a real president, not just one who played one on TV." Democrats have yet to come up with a strategy to counter Trump's media play while alternating between trying to stop the media from airing them and hoping that they would lead to Trump self-destructing from outlandish claims like injecting household cleansers could be a treatment for COVID-19.

According to the RealClear Politics aggregation of polls, Trump's job approval peaked at 47.4 per cent on April 1 but has come down to 44.9 per cent on Tuesday. His job approval on handling the pandemic hit 50.6 per cent on March 27 and slid to 46.4 on Tuesday. Nationally, Biden held a 6.3 per cent lead with 48.4 per cent to Trump's 42.1 per cent as of Saturday.

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