Former Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tim Ryan endorsed Joe Biden’s presidential bid Wednesday, saying the former vice president has the ability to win swing states President Donald Trump won in 2016.
“This election for many, many Democrats, regardless of where you live, is about who can beat Donald Trump. And the key to that is who can beat Donald Trump in Michigan, in Wisconsin, in Western Pennsylvania, in Ohio. And I’m convinced that that’s Joe Biden,” Ryan, who represents Ohio, said on MSNBC.
“We’ve got to beat Donald Trump. And to me, it’s clear as you go round and round and think about all of these great candidates that that’s Joe Biden. And I’m going to support him, I’m going to do everything I can for him in the early states and in the Midwest to help him become the nominee and beat Donald Trump,” he said.
Ryan, who dropped his presidential bid in late October, said the remaining Democratic contenders are “all good candidates,” but argued that “in Joe Biden’s bones is a connection to the working class people of this country” and that he’s “got the touch” needed to “bring some stability to the country.”
The endorsement could prove to be beneficial for the former vice president should he still be in the race when Ohio’s primary takes place in March. The state, which Trump carried by 8 percentage points in 2016, will be one of the closest-watched during next year’s election.
“I just think Biden is declining. I don’t think he has the energy. You see it almost daily. And I love the guy,” Ryan said during a phone call he had thought was with a donor, according to Bloomberg.
The congressman did not walk back his comments later during an interview with CNN in which he pointed to Biden’s “lack of clarity” on issues and argued that Democrats need a candidate who “can be very aggressive against Donald Trump” and “articulate a very clear vision for the country in a very forceful and firm way.”
During his own campaign, Ryan touted himself as a “progressive who knows how to talk to working class people,” and he hoped to convince once reliably Democratic voters that “the progressive agenda is what is best for working families.”
But the Ohio Democrat’s campaign failed to gain any traction in a large field of better-financed and better-known Democrats, and he pulled out of the race, saying he would again run for his long-held House seat.
Biden has so far received support from a number of other members of Congress, including Democratic Sens. Chris Coons and Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Doug Jones of Alabama, as well as Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, Dan Merica and Clare Foran contributed to this report.