Democratic Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon from Georgia, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, becoming the latest prominent black lawmaker to support the Democratic front-runner’s candidacy.
“He’s been a friend, a good friend, he’s a man of courage, a man of faith, he will be a great President, he will lead our country to a better place,” said Lewis.
Lewis marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 in Selma, Ala., and has been an outspoken critic of President Trump. His endorsement showcases Biden’s strength among older black voters, a prominent coalition that has helped him clinch a delegate lead over his rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Georgia congressman, however, acknowledged having to win over young black voters, as well, telling them to “get out there and vote, like we never, ever voted before.”
“People died for the right to vote. I would tell the young people the story of Selma, Montgomery, and Mississippi. If we fail to vote, we don’t count,” Lewis said.
Biden called Lewis one of his "heroes," saying during an interview with NBC News' Craig Melvin: "The fact that he would endorse me...makes me even more certain that I should be doing what I'm doing. I'm a great, great admirer of John Lewis. He's a man of enormous integrity."
The presidential hopeful is already looking toward the general election. He said during a virtual fundraiser Friday night that he’s pushing ahead with his search for a female running mate, even reaching out to former President Barack Obama and Sanders to discuss his search. Lewis supported the idea of picking a “woman of color.”
“It would be good to have a woman of color. It would be good to have a woman who looks like the rest of America… I think the time is long past to make the White House look like the whole of America,” said Lewis.
Lewis’ endorsement comes as Wisconsin holds its primary. Several states have delayed elections due to the coronavirus outbreak. Georgia pushed its primary to May 19. Still, Lewis emphasized the importance of voting.
“I'm worried about whether we're going to be able to have a free and clean election. I just hope that in spite of whatever is going on I know that people do not be afraid to come out and vote,” said Lewis.