Sanders formally endorses Biden for US president

Former White House candidate Bernie Sanders on Monday endorsed onetime rival Joe Biden for president, news wires reported. The two veteran politicians, who each spent the past year battling for the Democratic nomination, appeared together by split-screen on Biden's livecast.

Sanders said it was crucial to unite around Biden's campaign to defeat Trump, in his words "the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country”.

The swift backing marked a notable change from 2016, when Sanders lost the presidential nomination race to Hillary Clinton but delayed endorsing her candidacy. That wait was seen as deeply damaging in that it exposed a divide within the Democratic Party.

Sanders struck a unifying tone on Monday, telling viewers "it's imperative that all of us work together." The 78-year-old independent leftist senator from Vermont exited the 2020 race last week after losing almost all of the primary contests following a strong start, leaving Biden as the party's presumptive nominee.

The deadly coronavirus pandemic has forced a suspension of all in-person political campaigning, as most of the nation remains under stay-at-home orders, including Biden and Sanders, who appeared online from their homes.

Biden said he was "deeply grateful" for the endorsement. "You've put the interests of this nation and the need to beat Donald Trump above all else," he told Sanders. Biden announced the two men were establishing several policy working groups to address issues like climate change, health care, economic justice and college affordability. Sanders has been more liberal on such issues than Biden, and has successfully brought them front and center in the campaign, especially his call for a government-managed universal health care system.

Trump's re-election campaign said in a statement that Biden has "had to adopt most of Bernie's agenda", policies that Trump has branded socialist. Trump's approval rating has ticked up in the last few weeks of the pandemic, even as the US death toll soared past 20,000, a global high. But in a series of polls conducted this month, Biden leads Trump in head-to-head general election matchups by an average of 5.9%, according to the RealClearPolitics website


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