Republican Sen. Mike Rounds, who met with the Biden family the morning of his meeting with CNN on Wednesday, on Thursday announced he has endorsed the junior senator from Delaware as his presidential nominee.
“It was an emotional event. You could feel it. Joe Biden is now a part of the family and has been and will continue to be a loyal friend,” Rounds told CNN in a phone interview.
Rounds added that he has already reached out to “enjoying the support of my wife, myself and our two daughters, all will wholeheartedly support Joe Biden as our nominee for president.”
The Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Republican was a hero to many Americans, especially veterans, as a senator for his service in the South Dakota National Guard. Prior to joining the Senate, he served on the US Marine Corps Reserves as a Sergeant Major before receiving the coveted rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Rounds’ endorsement will aid Biden as he tries to solidify his base of support and shore up his fundraising as he starts to seek the Democratic nomination.
Indeed, reports of Obama-era officials of courting Biden for a 2020 run caught many off guard, including Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who told CNN in an interview Thursday that she had no intention of taking her endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden up to the Senate floor.
“I have and always will support former Vice President Biden if he is running for president. I know that will be his decision,” Shaheen said.
“I’m not going to want to have my vote considered for a hypothetical,” she added.
Vice President Mike Pence sought to publicly distance the GOP from Biden after Trump called Biden “a disaster” on Wednesday morning.
“Why would I want to be associated with Biden who is a disaster on foreign policy,” Pence said at an event in Israel.
However, one Republican Senate aide who works closely with Biden described Biden’s meeting with CNN as a complete and “enormous moment of joy and pride for him.”
The aide said Biden was “hammered with great questions” and and thanked the news organization for being so welcoming to the senator.
“It was another huge validation of the type of champion that Joe Biden is,” the aide said.
The aide added that Biden didn’t go into specifics, but that it was a mostly positive meeting and that Biden’s meeting with CNN was “not about Trump. It was about a potential future run for president,” the aide added.
Biden’s other supporters and aides said his use of CNN as an opportunity to speak out against Trump was not more about the current president but rather about pushing back against the relentless attacks that Democrats have received over the past several months from the President.
This was his first public appearance following Trump’s campaign-style rally in El Paso, Texas, where he angrily called the main Democratic presidential candidates names.
“These clowns. They’re disgusting,” Trump said of his opponent’s in the primary process. “They’re terrible. And they’re doing a terrible job.”
He went on to tout his own presidency for trying to lower the cost of prescription drugs and returning jobs from overseas.
Trump’s not alone. Two months ago, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Biden a “traitor” during a TV interview.
“Joe Biden is also a pathological liar. I don’t think you want someone with a pathological liar as your vice president,” Pelosi said.
That same day, Biden quipped to a CNN host, “Well, let’s see.”
Joe Biden received his first shot to hear the Republican Party’s rebuttal when Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado spoke to reporters about Biden on Thursday, repeatedly noting he did not know what Biden would say.
“I think it’s a positive for him (Biden) to debate this out,” Gardner said. “He’s not deterred one bit, and what I’m hearing from our members is that we want this kind of debate.”
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut has also said he intends to encourage Biden to run, in part by not intervening as a surrogate for Sen. Kamala Harris, the best-known Democratic prospective candidate for 2020 who does not have presidential aspirations.