Longtime Georgia Congressman John Lewis has been a steady presence in the midst of a storm more than a few times in his life. On Tuesday, the revered civil rights icon and politician endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, telling reporters, “he will help us regain our way as a nation and as a people.”
Lewis announced his decision on a teleconference Tuesday morning, according to CNN, delivering robust support of the former veep.
“He has been a friend, a dear friend. He’s a man of courage, a man with a great conscience, a man of faith,” Lewis said. “He will be a great president. He will lead our country to a better place. He would inspire another generation to stand up, to speak up and to speak out, to be brave and to be bold.”
Supporters of Biden will certainly welcome the stirring endorsement: Lewis, a young leader of the civil rights movement in the ’60s, has long been one of Capitol Hill’s most respected figures. And with campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination at a standstill because of the coronavirus, Lewis’ support could help re-energize a campaign that has already amassed a substantial lead with regard to delegate votes.
But Lewis also gave clear instructions on who he thought Biden should choose as a running mate: specifically, a woman candidate.
“It would be good to have a woman of color. It would be good to have a woman,” Lewis said in response to a reporter’s question. “It would be good to have a woman that looks like the rest of America—smart, gifted, a fighter, a warrior. And we have plenty of able women, some black, white, Latino, Asian American, Native American. I think the time has long past of making the White House look like the whole of America.”
At the last televised presidential primary, Biden pledged to choose a woman vice president, though many noted that a person’s gender doesn’t necessarily mean their policies are sufficiently progressive (Biden’s centrism, best exemplified in his refusal to get behind a single-payer healthcare system, is a sticking point for some voters).
Political pundits have frequently referred to former Georgia state representative Stacey Abrams as a top potential VP choice for Biden, while Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s name has been floated by his top donors as a potential policy advisor in a Biden White House.
As the campaign attempts to chug along in the middle of a global pandemic, voters can be forgiven for wondering where the hell Joe Biden is. With the country facing its most urgent crisis in the last 20 years, Biden has been drowned out by President Donald Trump’s regularly televised bullshit-a-thons (theoretically, they’re press briefings).
On his call Tuesday, Lewis stressed the urgency of the moment. The congressman, who is currently battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, also vowed to campaign for Biden.
“I have a few health problems now, but they will not be with me forever. I plan to travel around America to support him and be able to speak up and speak out for him,” he said.
With the ongoing battle against the coronavirus casting doubt over voter turnout this year, Lewis recounted the blood he shed to ensure black voters had the right to vote, giving a clear call to action for Democratic voters:
“The vote is the most powerful non-violent instrument or tool that we have in a democratic society and we must use it.”