President Barack Obama has reportedly told select Democratic donors that the party will have to coalesce under the candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sooner than later.
On Mar. 11, President Obama sat down with a group of high-profile donors during a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Austin, Texas. The president spoke his mind candidly but with a measured choice of words, The New York Times reports.
Three witnesses claim the president said that Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont’s presidential campaign was drawing to a close, and Democrats would have to provide Clinton a unified front swiftly.
Despite a devastating string of losses on Mar. 15, Sanders has remained in the Democratic primary, vowing to campaign until the party convention.
President Obama did not explicitly state that Sanders should bow out for the good of the party but implied that the senator’s campaign, if it were to continue into the summer, would only weaken Clinton’s support and benefit Republicans in the general election.
The president proceeded to praise Clinton as an intelligent and capable candidate, but admitted that voters did not view her as authentic. Obama does not consider this a fatal campaign flaw; he reportedly referenced President George W. Bush as a candidate praised for authenticity but slammed for actual decision-making.
While Sen. Sanders has criticized a number of President Obama’s policy positions, former Clinton has promised to build upon his achievements instead of enacting radical change.
On Mar. 17, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the president had not exercised favoritism during the Democratic primary. However, he did confirm that Obama called for unity among Democrats to face down Republicans in the general election.
"As Democrats move through this competitive primary process, we need to be mindful of the fact that our success in November in electing a Democratic president will depend on the commitment and ability of the Democratic party to come together behind our nominee,” Earnest said, according to NBC News.
The president is expected to campaign heavily for whoever becomes the Democratic nominee during the general election, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Recent Gallup tracking polls show Obama with a job approval hovering between 50 to 51 percent, which is above-average for a president at this stage of their final term. With solid popularity, he will be considered a valuable asset in pitching the Democratic nominee to voters.
During a news conference, Obama said his most important role will be to make sure that after primaries are done, he's bringing everybody together so that Democrats can focus on winning the general election.