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Barack Obama endorses Joe Biden for president

Former President Barack Obama says his former vice president has 'all the qualities we need in a president right now.'

WASHINGTON — Former President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden, his former vice president, on Tuesday, giving the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee a boost from the party’s biggest fundraiser and one of its most popular figures. 

Obama made the announcement in a video message, explaining that he believes Biden has "all the qualities we need in a president right now."

Obama and Biden are close friends from their two terms in the White House. Biden leaned heavily on his affiliation with the former president throughout the Democratic primary, framing his pitch as an extension of Obama’s presidency. In recent weeks he has told donors he's been in touch with Obama about his vice-presidential pick.

The former president began the nearly 12-minute endorsement video by discussing the coronavirus pandemic and acknowledging the bravery of medical professionals, public servants and health officials battling the disease, as well as everyone making sacrifices by staying home and practicing social distancing. 

"But if there's one thing we've learned as a country from moments of great crisis, it's that the spirit of looking out for one another can't be restricted to our homes, or our workplaces, or our neighborhoods or our houses of worship. It also has to be reflected in our national government," Obama said. "The kind of leadership that's guided by knowledge and experience, honesty and humility, empathy and grace. That kind of leadership doesn't just belong in our state capitols and mayors' offices, it belongs in the White House. And that's why I'm so proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States." 

In response, Biden tweeted that Obama's endorsement means the world to him and his wife, Jill. 

"We're going to build on the progress we made together, and there's no one I'd rather have standing by my side," Biden tweeted. 

The endorsement comes one day after Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Biden. Sanders suspended his campaign for the Democratic nomination last week. 

The former vice president now has the support of all of his former Democratic primary rivals except for Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts senator is expected to formally throw her support behind Biden soon, according to a person familiar with her plans.

Obama's endorsement has been long expected. When Biden first launched his presidential campaign, he asked the former president not to endorse him, saying whoever won the nomination should "do it with their own merit," according to CNBC.

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"Joe has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times and heal us through a long recovery. And I know he'll surround himself with good people."

The endorsement marks Obama's return to presidential politics more than three years after leaving the White House. He rarely talks directly about his successor, President Donald Trump, and avoided intervening in the Democratic primary. The field at one point spanned nearly two dozen candidates and Obama offered private counsel to anyone who asked it, but but made no efforts to bolster an individual campaign — including Biden’s.

Obama's endorsement, however, comes considerably earlier than in 2016. He backed Hillary Clinton in June of that year as her contentious primary fight with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dragged on.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.