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WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama endorsed one-time rival Hillary Clinton to succeed him Thursday, signaling to Democrats that it’s time to unify after a bitter primary campaign and beat Donald Trump.
“Tens of millions of Americans made their voices heard. Today I just want to add mine,” Obama said in a video endorsement. “I’m with her.”
Their first joint campaign event will take place in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Wednesday, June 15.
Obama won the state in 2008 and 2012, but Democrats expect a tough fight this year.
Obama’s endorsement, although long expected, is a shot in the arm for the Clinton campaign.
She has struggled for a year against leftist rival Bernie Sanders. The 74-year-old ran an unlikely grassroots campaign that swelled to a 12-million-strong movement.
Clinton finally clinched the nomination just days ago, prompting Obama to offer his backing.
“I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office,” Obama said.
The 44th president’s backing gives Clinton a potent surrogate on the campaign trail.
Ex-presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were so toxic by their eighth year in office that would-be successors kept them at arm’s length.
By contrast, Obama is still one of the country’s most popular politicians.
His approval ratings among black, Hispanic, young and liberal voters are stratospheric.
Clinton welcomed the vote of confidence: “Honored to have you with me, @POTUS I’m fired up and ready to go!” she tweeted, echoing one of Obama’s own campaign rallying cries from 2008.
In that election, Obama bested Clinton to become the first black president. They later made peace, as Clinton became Obama’s first secretary of state.
Now the 68-year-old Clinton is trying to make history of her own by becoming the first female president. Standing in her way is bombastic businessman Trump. He has shocked the world by becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
“Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama – but nobody else does!” Trump tweeted.