NBC contributor Jon Meacham endorsed Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE late Thursday, marking the first time the presidential historian has endorsed a presidential candidate.
“To record history doesn’t mean you are removed from it," Meacham said during an interview with Brian Williams on MSNBC’s "The 11th Hour."
Meacham said the former vice president had asked for his endorsement, with the historian noting that "we've been friendly for a long time."
"I was honored to do it and I totally spoke from my heart, my soul, my core," he said.
The historian said that organizers for the Democratic National Convention did not ask him to make "any point" and instead gave him a time limit and asked him to "define the soul of America," a reference to his 2018 book of the same title that Biden drew on for messaging for his 2020 White House campaign.
"There was no requirement that I endorse the nominee or talk about the nominee. But if you are engaged in this conversation we are having in America right now ... then it naturally leads you — intellectually, emotionally, politically — to the recognition that we have a stark choice here," he said.
In his endorsement video for Biden, Meacham described what he called "a grave moment in America."
"A deadly virus is ravaging us. Our jobs are evaporating. Our faith in the things that binds us together is fraying, for our democracy is under assault from an incumbent more interested in himself than he is the rest of us,” Meacham said.
“We must decide: will we continue to be prisoners of the darkest of American forces? Or will we free ourselves to write a brighter, better, nobler story? That’s the issue of this election," he added later.
While the endorsement is a first for Meacham, it is not necessarily surprising given his consistent criticism of the president since Trump first took office, including earlier this summer, when the historian argued that "Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE makes Richard Nixon look like Mr. Rogers" while also accusing him of being a dictator.
The Republican National Convention will be held next week at the White House, with many speeches expected to be held outside on the South Lawn or Rose Garden.
Biden currently leads Trump in the RealClearPolitics polling index by 7.4 points.