President Barack Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, declaring, "I'm with her," in a video message released hours after he'd met with her competition, Sen. Bernie Sanders. It's a major endorsement that, although not wholly unexpected, has the power to significantly change the state of the Democratic primary. In fact, it could end it once and for all. Since speaking with the president, the Vermont senator has undergone a striking change in tone. But will Obama's endorsement of Clinton convince Sanders to drop out?
Democrats have been anxious to change gears to focus on a unified general election battle against Donald Trump since Clinton was declared the presumptive Democratic nominee by the Associated Press early in the week, and Obama's endorsement is an attempt to spur the party into doing exactly that. Although Sanders doesn't seem ready to call it quits just yet, his campaign message appeared significantly changed after meeting with Obama on Thursday. After weeks of criticizing Clinton on the campaign trail, Sanders spoke of allying himself with the former secretary of state in a bid for party unity. "I look forward to meeting with [Clinton] in the near future to see how we can work together to defeat Donald Trump," Sanders told reporters.
But Sanders, who has vowed to work on flipping superdelegates ahead of his party's nominating convention, gave no indication of when he might officially throw in the towel. Despite primaries in six states tipping Clinton well beyond the 2,383 delegate threshold needed to secure the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, Sanders has vowed to take his campaign all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25. "I am pretty good at arithmetic, and I know that the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight, but we will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get," he told supporters in a campaign message posted to his official Facebook on Wednesday.
Earlier in the primary Sanders had continually told reporters that "the Democratic National Convention will be a contested convention," causing concern among Democrats eager to begin mobilizing against presumptive Republican nominee Trump. Given Sanders' recent change in tone, it seems more likely, however, that the senator will end his campaign shortly after polls close in the final presidential primary in Washington, D.C. next Tuesday.
It's been a well-fought run for the Vermont senator, who has yet to publicly comment on Obama's endorsement of Clinton. While Sanders may not end his campaign ahead of the D.C. primary, the conciliatory nature of his remarks Thursday appear to signal a willingness to ultimately concede the Democratic presidential primary rather than push a contested convention.