An unusually candid and very serious President Obama stood in front of a crowd of Democratic Party donors and privately told them, after reporters had left, that the time has come to support Hillary Clinton, as he felt Bernie Sanders was splitting the Democratic party and making a way for a Republican candidate, namely Donald Trump, to take the United States presidency.
President Obama acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton was perceived to have key weaknesses as a candidate, and that some Democrats did not view her as authentic. However, he stated that when he aggressively criticized George W. Bush in 2008, he said that Bush’s main platform was that of his authenticity, and that soon fell flat.
The comments were made after reporters had left a fundraising event in Austin, Texas, for the Democratic National Committee, where supporters had paid more than $33,000 for a seat. The comments were described by three attendees in the room, who were granted anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the topic. However, White House correspondence did verify those comments were made by the president, according to the New York Times.
Although President Obama chose his words carefully, and did not officially call for Bernie Sanders to leave the race, he suggested it was time to pull together and unite behind Hillary Clinton or risk losing the presidency to Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders has said in a statement unrelated to this event that it would be “un-democratic” for him to leave the race now. Those in attendance at the fundraising event said that President Obama made it known that supporting Sanders at this point would be helping the Republican party.
This is a critical time for Bernie Sanders and the president acknowledged that. Mr. Sanders, who had just beat out Mrs. Clinton in the Michigan primary, has been trying to convince Democrats that his campaign is not doomed, despite Mrs. Clinton’s healthy lead in delegates. He has said he will not leave the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Attendees said that President Obama said nothing to publicly criticize Sanders, especially due to the fact that he stated he realized that many Democratic voters were polarized toward Mr. Sanders and his principles and in no way did he wish to alienate them. Hillary Clinton has accused Bernie Sanders of being “too far left.”
President Obama addressed the attendees in a serious, urgent tone, beseeching them to find the good things in Hillary Clinton, just four nights before five key nominating states voted. Clinton took four, with Missouri yet to be called. The president also addressed the accusations that Hillary Clinton did not seem to generate as much enthusiasm as Mr. Sanders did. He was quick to say that both would make good presidents, but was far more forthcoming with praise for Clinton, describing her as “tough, smart, and experienced” and that she would continue the work that was initiated by his presidency. Bernie Sanders has been quick to criticize many of President Obama’s policies while in office.
The word of the night seemed to be “authenticity” — President Obama said that he knew voters craved it, but authenticity does not necessarily translate into being a great president. He noted that Donald Trump supporters were sold on Trump’s perceived authenticity.
Mr. Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, and his senior campaign adviser, Tad Devine, told reporters Wednesday afternoon that they believed that the senator could still catch up with Mrs. Clinton’s delegate lead. They stated that Sen. Sanders was slated to do very well in coming contests in Arizona, Wisconsin, Idaho, Utah, Washington, and New York. Sen. Sanders’ supporters have complained that the Democratic National Committee has favored Mrs. Clinton in the primary battle. With the words of President Obama, this appears to be the case.
Mr. Devine clearly stated that Bernie Sanders would not be dropping out, as it would be unfair to his supporters.
“We agree we are behind, but we also think we are going to win this game. We are just not intimidated by the numbers.”
[Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images]