Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) threw her support behind former vice president Joe Biden on Thursday, joining a dozen other former competitors to back his bid to become the Democratic nominee for president.

“He’s the absolute best candidate to defeat President Trump, and I think he is the person who has gained the trust and the respect of the American people in a way that no one else has,” Gillibrand said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The truth is he’s run the strongest campaign.”

Gillibrand’s nod comes as much of the party is coalescing behind Biden, who has racked up a more than 200 delegate lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). The third well-known competitor in the race, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), ended her campaign Thursday and endorsed Biden.

The health and financial crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic contributed to her view that Biden is the right candidate, Gillibrand said.

“His ability to empathize and absorb the fears of the country right now is essential,” Gillibrand said. “I think we need a healer. . . . I do truly believe he is the man for this moment that we’re in here.”

Gillibrand and Biden clashed on a debate stage in July when she confronted him about an op-ed he had written in August 1981 titled “Congress is Subsidizing Deterioration of Family.” The piece laid out why he had voted against expanding a child-care tax credit.

“I think it’s a sad commentary on our society when the Senate of the United States says, as a matter of social policy, that we should make it easier for people who have neither the financial necessity nor personal need to forsake their responsibility to care for their own children,” Biden wrote.

The measure passed the chamber on a 94-1 vote, with Biden explaining in the op-ed that he was the sole holdout because he didn’t believe that upper-income families should be eligible for the tax credit.

Onstage, Gillibrand asked him to clarify whether he believed that putting children in child care was inherently bad for families and should be done only out of financial necessity.

“So under Vice President Biden’s analysis, am I serving in Congress resulting in the deterioration of the family?” Gillibrand, who has two children, asked during the debate. “Because I had access to quality affordable day care? I just want to know what he meant when he said that.”

“I never believed it,” Biden retorted. He also pointed out that both of his wives had careers and that after his first wife and daughter died he raised his two sons.

Gillibrand, who dropped out of the race a month after their dispute, said Thursday that she believes Biden is a champion for women and added that he backed her legislation that would provide paid family and medical leave.

“He has shown throughout his campaign that he is willing to lead on these issues on families, on work, on equal pay for equal work, affordable day care, universal pre-K and a national paid leave plan.”

Biden’s announcement during a Sunday debate that he will pick a female running mate was “smart,” Gillibrand said. Asked whether she would serve as his No. 2, she said: “I certainly would consider supporting [him] in any way that he wants me to. But I also know that I can be very effective for him in the U.S. Senate.”