ATLANTA – Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden renewed his party unification efforts Monday with bookend endorsements from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the leader of the House progressive caucus that sometimes battles the speaker from the left.
The twin announcements from Pelosi and Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal highlight Biden's effort to avoid a repeat of the 2016 presidential election, when tensions between establishment Democrats and the party's progressive flank hobbled Hillary Clinton in her loss to President Donald Trump.
Pelosi, a longtime friend of Biden's, is a face of the Democratic establishment and boasts perhaps the widest network across the party's wealthiest donors. Jayapal, who had previously backed Bernie Sanders for president, is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose members want sweeping expansion of the federal government's role in the economy, notably through a single-payer “Medicare for All” insurance plan that Biden and Pelosi do not favor.
The two women reflected those varied approaches Monday as they explained their common conclusion that a Biden administration is the best chance for Democrats to advance a liberal agenda, even if in degrees.
Pelosi, speaking in a video, said Biden offers “hope and courage, values, authenticity and integrity.” She said he’d be a “voice of reason and resilience” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The 80-year-old speaker also cited Biden's work as President Barack Obama's vice president during the 2010 health care overhaul and the economic recovery acts after the 2008 financial collapse.
Jayapal, in her own statement, noted she has “not always agreed with Vice President Biden on matters of policy.” Yet she struck a pragmatic bottom line about the prospects of a second Trump term.
“Any progress toward a better future requires defeating him this November,” Jayapal, 54, said.