Barack Obama expressed hope that Bernie Sanders in “the next couple of weeks” will finally concede having lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton, despite having vowed to fight on through the party’s convention next month.
Speaking to late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon, Obama said that on balance, Sanders’s candidacy in the hard fought Democratic campaign was a positive.
“It was a healthy thing for the Democratic Party to have a contested primary,” Obama told Fallon during recording of an episode of The Tonight Show.
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“I thought that Bernie Sanders brought enormous energy and new ideas. And he pushed the party and challenged them. I thought it made Hillary a better candidate.”
He added: “My hope is, is that over the next couple of weeks, we’re able to pull things together.”
The US president made his remarks one day after Clinton prevailed in four of six primary and caucus election contests, and declared herself to be her party’s undisputed flag bearer for the November presidential election.
Sanders has refused to concede defeat, and vowed to “continue the fight” for the nomination.
Obama, however, has a meeting planned with Sanders on June 9, at which he is expected to urge him to formally wrap up his campaign so that the divided party can reconcile and focus its energies on defeating Republican Donald Trump.
He has yet to make a formal endorsement in the presidential race, although it is widely believed that his sympathies lie with Clinton, his former secretary of state, whom he vanquished in the battle for the Democratic nomination in 2008.
“I’m going to be talking to (Sanders) on June 10. He’s going to be coming to the White House,” Obama said, adding that the thrust of his message going forward is not just for the Vermont senator, but for America as a whole.
“The main role I’m going to be playing in this process is to remind the American people that this is a serious job,” Obama said.
“I’ve seen the decisions that have to be made. And the work that has to be done. And I have a lot of confidence that if the American people are reminded of what’s at stake and all the incredible important issues that we’ve got to get right, that they’re going to make a good choice. That’s what they usually do.”