President Barack Obama on Thursday endorsed Hillary Clinton, effectively ending the 2016 Democratic nominating process, and will campaign with her next week.
In a video released just after Obama’s Oval Office meeting with her challenger, Bernie Sanders, Obama said “I know how hard this job can be.”
“That’s why I know Hillary will be so good at it,” Obama said. “In fact, I don’t think there has ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.”
Near its conclusion, Obama urges his longtime supporters to join his former secretary of state, using one of her tag lines: “I’m with her.”
“She’s got the courage, the compassion, and the heart to get the job done,” he said. “And I say that as someone who had to debate her more than 20 times.”
Obama and Clinton will hold their first joint campaign rally next Wednesday in Green Bay, Wis.
The endorsement was first reported by the Washington Post.
Clinton and Obama faced each other in a bitterly fought 2008 presidential primary campaign.
Obama called Clinton agreeing to serve as top U.S. diplomat after their rough-and-tumble primary fight “a testament to her character.”
He also used the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, which Clinton says she supported when some of his other national security advisers urged caution, to underscore her qualifications.
She has mentioned the raid on the campaign trail numerous times, aiming first to undercut Sanders’ national security credentials and then presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
“I’ve seen her judgment. I’ve seen her toughness,” the president said of Clinton who is also a former first lady and New York senator. “I’ve seen her determination to give every American a fair shot at opportunity — no matter how tough the fight was.”
In the video, which appears to have been taped earlier this week, Obama thanked Sanders for his hard-fought campaign, saying “they’re both patriots who love this country.”
Obama met with Sanders at the White House earlier on Thursday. The Vermont senator is not quite ready to end his campaign, but signaled that he’ll work with Clinton to beat Trump in November.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest noted Obama and Sanders have had several recent conversations.
“I can assure you Senator Sanders wasn’t surprised by the timing of the endorsement,” he said.
Following the closed-door huddle with Sanders and video release, the White House pivoted quickly to the general election.
Obama is “very enthusiastic” about hitting the trail and “making the case” for his former rival and Cabinet member, Earnest said, echoing the video by saying Clinton’s resume suggests she is the most qualified general election candidate ever, other than some presidents who served for eight years as vice president like George H.W. Bush.
From national security to the economy, Obama and top White House aides continued Thursday to make clear they are eager to put the president’s record, as well as Clinton’s experience and proposals, up against Trump’s vague promises and pronouncements.
Obama — and Sanders — likely will make a top priority helping the presumptive Democratic nominee win over young voters. Earnest said Obama is ready to do that kind of work — but made clear “it will be Secretary Clinton’s responsibility to win over those people.”
Separately, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is set to endorse Clinton on Thursday night, delivering key progressive backing at a time when Clinton is working to unify the party, according to news reports .
At the same time, Warren’s name has been mentioned repeatedly as a possible vice presidential choice who could help Clinton appeal to the party’s more liberal wing.