A trio of Joe Biden’s former rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination endorsed him on Monday, the eve of a crucial day when 14 states including California will hold primaries.
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke all announced their support for Biden, part of an establishment embrace of the former vice president as he is viewed by party moderates as their best hope of stalling Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ march to the nomination.
“What I want all of you to do is vote for Joe,” Klobuchar said at a Biden rally in Dallas, hours after ending her presidential bid. “Vote for decency. Vote for dignity. Vote for a heart for our country. That is what he will bring to the White House.”
Earlier, Buttigieg and Biden grew emotional as the former mayor endorsed the former vice president at a Dallas restaurant.
“I’m looking for a leader. I’m looking for a president who will draw out what is best in each of us,” said Buttigieg, whose unlikely presidential run ended Sunday. “And I’m encouraging everybody who was part of my campaign to join me because we have found that leader in vice president, soon to be president, Joe Biden.”
A clearly emotional Biden praised Buttigieg’s remarks and candidacy, as he did later in the evening when Klobuchar and O’Rourke delivered their endorsements.
“I just can’t tell you how much I appreciate it,” Biden said of Buttigieg’s endorsement. “Because I promise you, you’re gonna end up over your lifetime seeing a hell of a lot more of Pete than you are of me.”
O’Rourke, who ended his presidential campaign months ago, also endorsed Biden at the Dallas rally.
“We need somebody who can beat Donald Trump. The man in the White House today poses an existential threat to this country, to our democracy, to free and fair elections, and we need somebody who can beat him. And in Joe Biden, we have that man,” said O’Rourke, whose narrow Senate loss to Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 made him a hero in Democratic circles, particularly in Texas, which also votes Tuesday. “We have someone who is the antithesis of Donald Trump. Joe Biden is decent, he’s kind, he’s caring, he’s empathetic.”
The three former candidates’ backing is part of a deluge of endorsements Biden has received since winning the South Carolina primary on Saturday. The strong showing in the Palmetto State gave new life to Biden’s campaign, but it’s unclear how much momentum this will give Biden on Super Tuesday or how much weight endorsements carry with voters in the modern era.
But the signaling shows the growing desire by moderate Democrats to present a blunt show of force to stop Sanders.
Some party leaders fear that if Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, is at the top of the ticket, not only will he lose to Trump but he will be a drag on down-ballot races, perhaps costing Democrats control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sanders cast the coalescing of moderates as an indication of his campaign’s success.
“Now the establishment, the corporate establishment, the political establishment, you are making them very nervous,” Sanders told more than 15,000 supporters at a rally in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday. “They’re really getting quite upset, they’re seeing workers stand up and demand decent wages. They’re seeing young people demanding the right to get a higher education without going into debt. They’re seeing people all across this country understand that healthcare is a human right, not a privilege.”
On Monday night, Sanders took a gracious turn while rallying supporters in St. Paul, Minn., praising Klobuchar’s work ethic and the historic nature of Buttigieg’s run.
“And tonight, I want to open the door to Amy’s supporters, to Pete’s supporters,” Sanders said. “I know that there are political differences, but I also know that virtually all of Amy’s supporters and Pete’s supporters understand we have got to move toward a government which believes in justice, not greed.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren also praised Buttigieg and Klobuchar as she spoke in the quad of East Los Angeles College on Monday night. But she also urged her supporters not to listen to “Washington insiders” telling them to support Biden.
“Nominating their fellow Washington insider will not meet this moment. Nominating a man who says we do not need any fundamental change in this country will not meet this moment,” she said. “And nominating someone who wants to restore the world before Donald Trump, when the status quo has been leaving more and more people behind for decades, is a big risk for our party and for our country.”
Neither Buttigieg nor Klobuchar had significant support in Super Tuesday states, but their backers could be key in amassing delegates in states like California.
Other endorsements that came in since Biden’s Saturday victory include former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and former Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Mark Udall of Colorado and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.
Reid and Biden were longtime allies who served in the nation’s capital together for decades, including a 22-year overlap in the Senate. Reid stayed neutral prior to last month’s Nevada caucuses to avoid putting a finger on the scale of the third Democratic presidential nominating contest in the nation.
But he made a pure electability argument when he announced his endorsement, saying Biden’s resume and stability made him the best candidate to beat President Trump.
“President Donald Trump has done unspeakable damage to our country, our institutions and the rule of law. Democrats need a candidate who can assemble the largest, most diverse coalition possible to defeat Trump and lead our country following the trauma of Trump’s presidency,” Reid said. “That candidate is Joe Biden.”
Times staff writer Arit John and Melissa Gomez contributed to this report.