Washington: US President Barack Obama on Thursday endorsed Hillary Clinton to succeed him, declaring in a video message “I’m with her.” The endorsement comes after a hard fought Democratic primary season, in which Ms. Clinton struggled against her rival Bernie Sanders.
“Tens of millions of Americans made their voices heard. Today I just want to add mine,” Mr. Obama said.
“I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.” “I have seen her judgment. I’ve seen her toughness. I’ve seen her commitment to our values up close,” Mr. Obama said of Ms. Clinton.
The endorsement — while long expected — is a shot in the arm to the Clinton campaign and could end concerns about party unity after a bitter contest.
Ms. Clinton welcomed the vote of confidence: “Honoured to have you with me, @POTUS I’m fired up and ready to go!” she tweeted, echoing one of Mr. Obama’s own campaign rallying cries from 2008.
Earlier, Mr. Obama hosted Mr. Sanders in the Oval Office in another bid to heal those wounds.
Following the meeting, Mr. Sanders refused to bow out before the final Democratic primary next week, but said he would meet rival Clinton soon to foster party unity.
However, he sounded conciliatory after the hour-long White House meeting with Mr. Obama. He was at the White House for discussions on how to heal rifts in the Democratic Party. Mr. Obama was looking to play peace broker, coaxing Mr. Sanders to recognise Ms. Clinton as the nominee.
Looking forward to her presidential campaign, the first major decision Ms. Clinton will have to make ahead of the national convention in July is that of choosing a vice-presidential running mate.
The selection of the V-P candidate is normally part of a wider agreement the nominee reaches with other sections of the party, and with an eye on reaching out to crucial constituencies or winning a swing State.
Ms. Clinton is, however, keeping her cards close to her chest. “I’m looking at the most qualified people, and that includes women, of course, because I want to be sure that whoever I pick could be President immediately if something were to happen — that’s the most important qualification,” she said in response to a question on whether she might choose a woman.
The most talked about woman in this context is Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts who has emerged as a leading liberal voice in the party.
Ms. Warren, the only woman Senator who has not endorsed Ms. Clinton, shares most of the concerns with Mr. Sanders and could be attractive to his supporters who are now feeling dejected.
However, Ms. Clinton, having already moved herself to the left to deal with the challenge posed by Mr. Sanders, may not find it easy to choose a left liberal.
Some other probable names include Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick.