Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Monday said he's endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden's 2020 presidential campaign, bypassing U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, the Colorado Democrat who was appointed to fill Salazar's Senate seat a decade ago.
"Joe is a uniter. He is results-oriented. We need to have him in the White House today because the country more than ever before needs someone who can unite the world," Salazar said on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews. "There's nobody that knows the world issues and the national issues the way that Joe Biden does."
Salazar, who ran the Interior department for the first four years of the Obama administration, said that President Barack Obama called on Biden, his vice president, to oversee implementation of the stimulus legislation Obama signed in Denver in February 2009.
"The economic foundation which was set forth by President Obama and Joe Biden is essentially the economic strength that we have in this country today," Salazar said. "He knows how to get the results — here at home on the domestic front, but also around the world, dealing with issues in the Middle East, Latin America."
He also credited Biden with pushing the Affordable Care Act across the finish line by persuading reluctant House and Senate Democrats to support what became known as Obamacare.
Biden is the Democrats' front-runner to take on President Donald Trump, though U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont have been nipping at his heels, according to recent polling.
Bennet, one of the other 17 Democrats seeking the nomination, has been polling in the back of the pack since he announced his candidacy in May but says he intends to stay in the race at least through early February, when Iowa holds its caucus and New Hampshire holds its primary.
Colorado is one of 16 states and territories to cast Democratic presidential primary ballots on March 3, known as Super Tuesday.
According to the lone poll of Colorado presidential primary voters that has been released, it's a close race, with Sanders edging out Biden by 1 percentage point and Warren not far behind. Bennet is one of the trailing candidates, with the support of 1% of those polled.
Another one of Bennet's predecessors, former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart, last week threw his support behind Bennet, saying he "has the intelligence, experience and judgment to put our nation back on track at home and abroad."
Salazar is one of 13 current and former U.S. senators and four former cabinet secretaries to endorse Biden. The latter total includes Federico Peña, the former mayor of Denver, who ran the departments of energy and transportation in the Clinton administration. Peña is also among the hosts of a Biden fundraiser in Denver on Sept. 28.
Through the end of June, Salazar had contributed to five presidential campaigns, including donations of $1,500 to Biden, $500 to Bennet, $500 to U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California and $500 to former Housing secretary Julian Castro, who served with Salazar in Obama's cabinet.
Salazar also donated $2,500 to former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who dropped his presidential bid in August and jumped into the crowded primary for Colorado's other U.S. Senate seat, held by Republican Cory Gardner.