Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders makes remarks outside the White House after meeting with President Barack Obama on Thursday. Sanders said he will meet soon with presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, though he plans to continue campaigning in the District of Columbia primary next week. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- After meeting with President Barack Obama on Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he will press on with his campaign through the District of Columbia primary and into the Democratic convention next month.
Sanders again would not acknowledge his rival, Hillary Clinton, as the party's presumptive nominee, though he said he will meet with her soon, adding he wants to "work together" to defeat the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
"I look forward to meeting with her in the near future to see how we can work together to defeat Donald Trump and create a government that represents all of us and not just the 1 percent," Sanders said.
Sanders' White House sit-down meeting with the president came just hours before Obama formally endorsed Clinton for president. A White House spokesman said Sanders was aware prior to leaving the meeting that Obama planned to officially end his silence on the Democratic primary, and that Sanders "was not surprised."
Sanders said he will "of course" compete in the District of Columbia primary next week, which is the final contest of the primary election and will campaign to support D.C. statehood.
Sanders rattled off a list of his campaign's core issues relating to income inequality, saying: "These are some of the issues that many millions of Americans have supported during my campaign. These are the issues we will take to the Democratic National Convention at the end of July."
Sanders read the prepared statement outside the White House after his meeting with Obama, who was not seen after the meeting.
The pair were all smiles as they walked through the White House Rose Garden and into the Oval Office, though the public pleasantries belie a very sensitive political problem for Democrats as they try to coax Sanders to the sidelines.
President Barack Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., walk along the colonnade adjacent to the Rose Garden at the White House on Thursday. The two were all smiles in public, though the meeting comes at a delicate time, with Democrats eager to begin the general election despite Sanders' refusal to end his bid. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI
Instead, after a stinging defeat in California on Tuesday, Sanders renewed his pledge to continue his fight up through the convention despite the hope among many Democrats that Sanders would acquiesce to Clinton, and begin to wind down his campaign.
While few of Washington's top Democrats have called outright for Sanders to quit the race since Tuesday, many have begun offering subtle advice about how best to ease out of what was a surprising, but politically potent challenge to Clinton, powered by individual campaign contributions and passionate support from much of the party's liberal base.
Obama, who taped an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday, which is set to air Thursday night, told the host he applauded Sanders' campaign while acknowledging Clinton will be the party's nominee.
"My hope is, is that over the next couple of weeks, we're able to pull things together," Obama said in the interview.
Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged Democrats to be "graceful" and allow Sanders to end his campaign on his own terms.
The White House meeting, according to Press Secretary Josh Earnest, offered Obama the opportunity to discuss not just the short-term future of Sanders' campaign, but the long view of how he hopes to shape the party.
"There was also a conversation about the long-term future of the Democratic Party. Sen. Sanders' campaign had so much success in part because he inspired so many young people," Earnest said.
The concern for Democrats is how to bring the more than 12 million voters who chose Sanders over Clinton in the primary into Clinton's camp in the general election.
A Marist poll taken earlier this year during the height of the campaign showed nearly a quarter of Sanders supporters said they would not vote for Clinton if she won the nomination.
Sanders is scheduled to hold a rally in Washington on Thursday night as a lead-up to the D.C. primary on June 14.