Obama offers praise for Biden, stops short of endorsement

Former President Obama on Thursday heaped praise onto Joe BidenJoe Biden2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Can Biden's canceled cancer initiative be salvaged? Biden's health care gaffe shows he's not ready for prime time MORE after his former vice president entered the 2020 presidential campaign, but stopped short of issuing an endorsement.

“President Obama has long said that selecting Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made,” Katie Hill, a spokesperson for Obama, said in a statement.

“He relied on the vice president’s knowledge, insight, and judgment throughout both campaigns and the entire presidency. The two forged a special bond over the last 10 years and remain close today.” 

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Obama, who remains popular among the Democratic base, has thus far declined to issue endorsements for any of the 21 candidates running in the primary field but has not released any other statements as glowing as the one for Biden.

Obama and Biden were known to be close during their eight years in the White House, with the former president surprising his “brother” with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2017 shortly before their term ended.

Biden officially announced the launch of his presidential campaign Thursday morning after months of speculation, casting himself as a bulwark against what he says is the threat of another four years of a Trump presidency.

“I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time,” Biden said in a video announcing his White House bid. “But if we give Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are — and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.

“Everything that has made America America is at stake. That’s why today I'm announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”

Despite already garnering support from a trio of senators, Biden will have to deflect criticism from a progressive base that has proven skeptical over his reputation as a centrist, his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the 1991 Anita Hill hearings and recent allegations from several women that he inappropriately touched them.