Updated | President Barack Obama on Thursday endorsed Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state, for president of the United States.
“I want to congratulate Hillary Clinton for making history as the presumptive Democratic nominee for president of the United States,” Obama said in a pre-recorded video, released on social media by the Clinton campaign on Thursday afternoon. “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.”
Obama praised Clinton’s “toughness,” “judgment” and commitment to American values. “I’m with her. I’m fired up. And I cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary,” he said.
The endorsement came hours after Obama met with Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, at the White House. With Sanders’s path to the nomination all but blocked by Clinton’s lead among pledged delegates and superdelegates, party leaders have called for Sanders to step aside in the name of unifying against the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. But Sanders gave no indication on Thursday that he planned to throw in the towel, saying he would fight on to the party’s convention in Philadelphia next month.
News that Obama planned to endorse Clinton was first reported by The Washington Post. “The president’s decision to move quickly to give his public support for Clinton is an indication of his desire to begin to play a more active role in making the case against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump as unqualified to be president and to try to rally those who have backed Sanders behind Clinton’s candidacy,” the Post reports.
Obama addressed those concerns in his endorsement. “I know some say these primaries have somehow left the Democratic party more divided. Well, they said that eight years ago as well,” he said, referring to speculation in 2008 that Clinton supporters would back the Republican nominee, John McCain, over Obama. The president congratulated Sanders on running “a great campaign.”
In recent weeks, Obama has stepped up his rhetoric against Trump, calling on Americans to reject his anti-immigrant rhetoric and his plan to build a wall along the southern border.
The president will join Clinton on the campaign trial in Green Bay, Wisconsin on June 15, it said in a release.
In a statement, Clinton said the president's endorsement “means the world” to her. “It is absolutely a joy and an honor that President Obama and I, over the years, have gone from fierce competitors to true friends,” she said.
Martin O'Malley also endorsed Clinton on Thursday.