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Elizabeth Warren becomes latest former presidential rival to back Joe Biden

The Massachusetts senator dropped out of the race last month.

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Elizabeth Warren is the last of the former vice president’s major Democratic US presidential rivals to formally back him (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Elizabeth Warren is the last of the former vice president’s major Democratic US presidential rivals to formally back him (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Elizabeth Warren is the last of the former vice president’s major Democratic US presidential rivals to formally back him (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Elizabeth Warren has become the latest of Joe Biden’s onetime Democratic rivals to back the former vice president as the party moves to project unity against Donald Trump going into the November election.

Joe Biden has spent nearly his entire life in public service. He knows that a government run with integrity, competence, and heart will save lives and save livelihoods,” Ms Warren said in a near four-minute video announcing her decision.

“And we can’t afford to let Donald Trump continue to endanger the lives and livelihoods of every American.”

The Massachusetts senator rose to brief front-runner status in the Democratic race last fall but suspended her campaign last month after a disappointing Super Tuesday that included a third-place finish in her home state.

She left the race without endorsing Mr Biden or her fellow progressive Bernie Sanders — but the dynamics changed substantially in subsequent weeks, with campaigning forced into a hiatus amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Sanders dropped out last week and endorsed Mr Biden within days, hoping to persuade his progressive supporters to warm to the more centrist Mr Biden.

Former president Barack Obama followed suit on Tuesday.

Ms Warren’s formal backing does not carry the political heft it might have if she had endorsed Mr Biden over Mr Sanders weeks ago, but her announcement could fuel speculation that Mr Biden may choose her as a running mate. He has said he will soon announce a committee to oversee his vice presidential search.

She made no mention of that possibility in announcing her endorsement video, instead saying Mr Biden “grew up on the ragged edge of the middle class”. That phrase that was a centrepiece of her own campaign and referred to her upbringing in Oklahoma.

Mr Biden saluted her for the series of detailed policy proposals she released as a candidate and said he will count on her to help rebuild the economy once the threat of coronavirus lifts.

“She helped set a high-water mark for what our politics can be at their best — authentic and service-oriented, focused on how we can deliver the most help to the most people,” he said in a statement.

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Elizabeth Warren with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden (Matt Rourke/AP)

Elizabeth Warren with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden (Matt Rourke/AP)

AP/PA Images

Elizabeth Warren with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden (Matt Rourke/AP)

“I am proud to have Senator Warren in my corner for the fight ahead — not just as we work to defeat Donald Trump in November, but in the years to come, as we push through a bold and progressive policy agenda for the American people.”

Ms Warren referred to the pandemic more directly in a tweet: “In this moment of crisis, it’s more important than ever that the next president restores Americans’ faith in good, effective government — and I’ve seen Joe Biden help our nation rebuild. Today, I’m proud to endorse @JoeBiden as President of the United States.”

Some of her allies note that, in the days before her endorsement, Mr Biden embraced some of her plans to combat coronavirus, including calls to cancel student debt and expand social security benefits during the crisis. He also has adopted a plan she promoted as a candidate to overhaul the nation’s bankruptcy system.

In her video, Ms Warren also referenced the pair’s sometimes rocky relationship. They clashed in 2005, when Mr Biden was a Delaware senator and Ms Warren was a Harvard Law School professor and bankruptcy expert, during a congressional hearing over a bankruptcy bill. It was a scene that Mr Biden, as vice president, recalled when he swore her into office eight years later.

“Joe Biden was there at the very moment I became a senator,” she said. “And when he did, he said ‘you gave me hell! And you’re gonna do a great job’.”

PA