U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver has formally endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary for president.
Biden’s campaign announced Cleaver’s support Thursday afternoon alongside endorsements from U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina who, like Cleaver, serves in the Congressional Black Caucus, and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.
“The next election is, in many ways, about whether our leader can restore the soul of our nation and re-establish the long held notion that the United States of America is moving welcomingly and indelibly toward a unified nation,” Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat, said in a statement. “Our nation is in dire need of someone like Joe Biden, a leader who has never been afraid to speak out for what he believes is right.”
Cleaver said Biden has been “a champion in fighting for American families for over forty years. And right now, he’s speaking out against the divisive rhetoric and abhorrent behavior we continue to see under this president. We need integrity to be restored in the highest office. That’s why I proudly endorse Joe Biden for President.”
Nearly four months before the Iowa Caucuses, Cleaver’s endorsement comes as Biden continues his shaky hold as front-runner in Democrats’ 2020 presidential primary. Polls show that African American voters are a key part of his support.
Missouri’s presidential primary is scheduled for March 10. While President Donald Trump won the state by 19-percentage points in 2016, Cleaver previously told The Star that he believes right Democratic nominee could “return Missouri to its status as a bellwether.”
In an interview about his endorsement with the Associated Press, Cleaver said he struggled over the endorsement due to the candidacies of two African American senators -- Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
Should Biden win the nomination, Cleaver said he instructed the former VP “to campaign everywhere; you cannot surrender any geography to Mr. Trump.”