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President Obama congratulated his former labor secretary, Thomas Perez, for winning the election to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Saturday and praised him as being a force of unity for the Democratic Party.

“Congratulations to my friend Tom Perez on his election to lead the Democratic Party, and on his choice of Keith Ellison to help him lead it,” Obama said in a statement put out by his office.

The 44th president said he is “proud” of all the candidates who ran who “make this great party what it is.”

Obama didn’t endorse a candidate, but other officials from his administration, notably former Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder had endorsed Perez. The other front-runner in the race, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, had the support of progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders as well as more establishment politicians like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Perez, immediately after being elected, asked to suspend the rules of the party and elect Ellison to serve as his deputy chairman. The move was unanimously supported.

Obama went on to discuss what unites the Democratic Party.

“What unites our party is a belief in opportunity — the idea that however you started out, whatever you look like, or whomever you love, America is the place where you can make it if you try,” Obama said. Over the past eight years, our party continued its track record of delivering on that promise: growing the economy, creating new jobs, keeping our people safe with a tough, smart foreign policy, and expanding the rights of our founding to every American — including the right to quality, affordable health insurance.”

He continued: “That’s a legacy the Democratic Party will always carry forward. I know that Tom Perez will unite us under that banner of opportunity, and lay the groundwork for a new generation of Democratic leadership for this big, bold, inclusive, dynamic America we love so much.”

Hillary Clinton and husband, former President Bill Clinton, also passed good will to the new Perez-Ellison team, pegging them as a good combination for unity.

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“Congrats to @DNC chair @TomPerez & deputy @keithellison,” Hillary Clinton tweeted. “Excited for strong, unified party standing for best of our country into the future.”

Bill Clinton said: “Congratulations to new DNC Chair Tom Perez, Keith Ellison, & the great field of candidates who ran. United Democrats are stronger Democrats.”



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