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White House: Obama won't endorse Clinton until after Thursday meeting with Sanders

By Doug G. Ware
President Barack Obama enters the White House near an entrance in the Rose Garden on Monday, June 6, 2016. Wednesday, spokesman Josh Earnest said the president won't officially endorse Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton until after he meets with Sen. Bernie Sanders to discuss his plans and prospects at the White House on Thursday morning. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/319f18d547e1038209d9bdcb04db45a6/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
President Barack Obama enters the White House near an entrance in the Rose Garden on Monday, June 6, 2016. Wednesday, spokesman Josh Earnest said the president won't officially endorse Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton until after he meets with Sen. Bernie Sanders to discuss his plans and prospects at the White House on Thursday morning. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama won't formally endorse Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to succeed him in the Oval Office until after he meets with Bernie Sanders on Thursday, the White House said.

Sources said earlier this week that Obama was eager to begin stumping for Clinton on the campaign trail, but Wednesday White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the president's support won't be made official until he can sit down with the former secretary of state's only remaining rival for the nomination.

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Earnest said Obama "deeply respects what Sen. Sanders has accomplished" and will speak with the candidate about his prospects at the White House Thursday morning.

"At this point, the president believes Senator Sanders has more than earned the right to make his own decision about the direction of his campaign," Earnest said.

RELATED Monday: Eager to hit the campaign trail, Obama expected to endorse Clinton soon

Clinton has crossed the threshold for securing the Democratic nomination, solidified by big wins in several states Tuesday, but Sanders has pledged to keep running his campaign until the party's convention in Philadelphia next month.

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"We are getting very close to the end of the nomination process," Earnest added.

Wednesday, it was reported that Sanders laid off about half of his staff after Tuesday's primary votes.

Obama traveled to New York City Wednesday to speak at two Democratic fundraisers and tape a segment for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

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