April 28, 2020 / 5:29 PM / a month ago

Biden, seeking support of women, wins Hillary Clinton's endorsement

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden won the endorsement on Tuesday of Hillary Clinton for the office she fell short of winning in 2016 in her bid to become the first woman elected as U.S. president.

The endorsement, at an online town hall on the effects of the coronavirus crisis on women, came at a critical moment as Biden aims to raise his profile with female voters and other key demographic groups even as the pandemic ravages the U.S. economy.

Clinton - a onetime secretary of state, U.S. senator from New York and first lady - suffered an upset defeat in the 2016 presidential election to Republican Donald Trump, despite winning the popular vote.

She also lost the 2008 Democratic presidential race to Barack Obama, whom Biden served as vice president.

Biden, who has vowed to pick a woman as his running mate this year, introduced Clinton at the town hall as the person who should be now be president.

Clinton told the former vice president: “I am thrilled to be part of your campaign to not only endorse you but to help highlight a lot of the issues that are at stake in this presidential election.”

Clinton’s defeat four years ago remains the source of anger and consternation among liberals, including some who wrestle with whether they chose the right candidate.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) attend a ceremony to unveil a portrait honoring retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Women favored Clinton over Trump in 2016, exit polls showed, and are expected to play a critical role in swaying the most competitive swing states in the Nov. 3 election between Biden and Trump.

On Tuesday, Biden and Clinton promoted the need to define abortion as essential healthcare during the coronavirus pandemic and to provide subsidies to victims of domestic violence forced to take time off from work.

The former first lady’s signature issue during the presidency of her husband, Bill Clinton, was healthcare reform, and her early career included advocacy on family and children’s issues. Speaking on the webcast, she said women were disproportionately hurt by some of the consequences of the pandemic.

Biden agreed, adding that abortion was being used as “a political wedge” during the crisis. Some Republican-led states have sought to curb the procedure as part of their emergency response.

NOT IN DOUBT

In a statement responding to the endorsement, Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said: “There is no greater concentration of Democrat establishment than Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton together.”

“President Trump beat her once and now he’ll beat her chosen candidate,” the statement added.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the 11th Democratic candidates debate of the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, held in CNN's Washington studios without an audience because of the global coronavirus pandemic, in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

Clinton’s support for Biden at this stage was never in doubt. Biden is widely supported by his party’s establishment and his last remaining rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, dropped out earlier this month. Sanders has also endorsed Biden.

Sanders, a democratic socialist, clashed with Clinton over personality and ideology in their 2016 Democratic presidential race.

Clinton was Obama’s first secretary of state. Biden decided against mounting a campaign against her in 2016 as he grieved the death of his son Beau. Obama, the first black U.S. president, endorsed Biden’s campaign two weeks ago after Sanders’ withdrawal from the contest.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney

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