President Barack Obama has yet to formally endorse either Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for the presidency. Insiders say that after the California primary on June 7, the president will swiftly announce that he is backing Clinton.
Clinton has struggled to put away Sanders in what has become a contentious Democratic primary.
While she has consistently led in the popular vote and pledged delegates and is expected to reach the delegate threshold necessary to clinch the nomination, Sanders has maintained that he will continue to try and sway the superdelegates to switch to his side come the Democratic National Convention in July.
Obama’s full endorsement of Clinton could effectively squash Sanders’ efforts and result in a unified convention. Democrats familiar with the White House confirmed to CNN that Obama plans to do just that.
The president has so far been coy about who he will support to be his Democratic successor. During a June 1 town hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana, Obama told the audience “I think we’ll probably have a pretty good sense next week of who the nominee will end up being.”
Despite maintaining a patient presence in public, Obama has been telling Democratic donors that the party will need to unite and raise as much money as possible to defeat presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
During a June 3 fundraiser in Miami, Obama signaled that the Democratic party needs to have a sense of urgency for the general election, telling donors, “I want us to run scared the whole time.”
Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a darling of progressives, will reportedly endorse Clinton during a joint appearance at an event in Washington, D.C., on June 9. There is no expected date for Obama’s endorsement, but he is expected to make an announcement around the same time.
Obama communications director Jennifer Psaki has indicated that the president will stump heavily for whoever becomes the Democratic nominee.
“He has indicated he wants to spend a lot of time on the campaign trail, so when it’s time to do that, we’ll go out guns ablazing,” Psaki told The New York Times.
Former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod agreed that Obama would inevitably endorse Clinton shortly after the June 7 primaries, adding “the verdict is the verdict, and that point is almost certainly Tuesday, which is what he way saying.”
President Obama is enjoying a current spike in popularity. As of June 3, Gallup found that he currently polls with a 50 percent favorability rating. In contrast, Gallup found that former President George W. Bush polled only 20 percent favorability the week leading up to the 2008 general election.
Democrats are counting on President Obama’s vocal support of Clinton to help propel them to a third term in the presidency, a feat that has not been accomplished since George H.W. Bush succeeded Ronald Reagan in 1988.
“It is obviously a challenge to win the White House for three straight elections and as a candidate, as a front-runner, everyone takes shots at you,” Democratic strategist Evan Stavisky. “But that challenge can be overcome when you have a popular sitting president.”