US President Barack Obama formally endorsed Hillary Clinton’s White House bid on Thursday and called on Democrats to unite behind her, saying that she is highly qualified for the top job.
“I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office,” Obama said of Clinton in a video. “I’m with her. I am fired up, and I cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary.”
The endorsement came as Clinton reached the number of delegates needed to win the party nomination following a protracted battle with Bernie Sanders.
Clinton said Obama’s support “means the world” to her ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
“It is absolutely a joy and an honor that President Obama and I over the years have gone from fierce competitors to true friends,” Clinton told Reuters in an interview.
Obama’s message increases pressure on Sanders to bow out of the race and lend his support to Clinton so that the party can focus on defeating Donald Trump, the Republican candidate.
Obama, who enjoys strong approval ratings after nearly eight years in office, will appear with Clinton on the campaign trail next week in Wisconsin.
Trump assailed the endorsement on Twitter: “He wants four more years of Obama—but nobody else does!”
Sanders, who galvanized young voters with his calls for more social equality and measures to rein in Wall Street, has been reluctant to concede the race, despite concerns among leading Democrats that continuing party divisions could hamper Clinton’s efforts to beat Trump.
In what appeared to be an attempt to gently ease Sanders toward giving up his campaign, Obama met the Democratic socialist for about an hour in the White House.
Though Sanders told reporters afterward that he still plans to compete in the final nominating contest in Washington, D.C. on June 14, he said he will work with Clinton to defeat Trump.
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