Former President Obama had multiple long discussions with Sen. Bernie Sanders in an effort to convince him to bow out of the presidential primary, playing a significant role in the Democratic Socialist’s decision making, according to a report.
In the weeks after former Vice President Joe Biden established himself as the presumptive Democratic nominee, following his win in South Carolina and sweeping victories on Super Tuesday, Obama conducted at least four conversations with the presidential hopeful, according to the New York Times.
The paper reports that the former president told a close friend that Biden, now the party frontrunner, needed to “accelerate the endgame,” likely a reference to the inevitable reality that the former VP would be the party’s nominee and needed to shift to a general election strategy.
Those close to Sanders told The Times that Obama’s efforts to sway him had a considerable impact on his decision making.
Sanders was not the first 2020 Democratic candidate to speak to the former president by phone during this primary cycle. Obama, despite remaining largely silent in public, had regular conversations with candidates before, during and after their bids for the White House, according to CNN.
“[Obama’s] private counsel consistently emphasized staying focused on the ultimate goal: winning the White House in November,” a source familiar with the former commander-in-chief’s calls told the network.
The former president “urged [candidates] to keep in mind that we must be well-positioned to unify as a party once we have a nominee.”
The Vermont independent clearly took the former president’s advice, endorsing Biden on Monday during a livestream appearance with his former 2020 rival to discuss coming together to defeat President Trump in November.
Biden — hoping to woo the progressive’s fiercely loyal corps to his side — assured the senator’s supporters that Sanders would be advising him on key issues including the economy, education and health care.
Meanwhile, Obama and Biden have already begun working through how, when and where they will deploy the former president to best help the 2020 Democrat, according to The Times. Those discussions began as Obama was convincing Sanders to bow out of the race.
Biden and his team are keen on utilizing Obama as quickly as they can, especially on the issue of fundraising where they see him as an asset to compete with President Trump and his massive stockpile of small dollar donations.
Now, with Sanders out of the way, Obama could release an endorsement for his former running mate as soon as Tuesday morning, the paper says.
With Americans cooped up at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the endorsement would be online. One Democratic official said the goal was to make the announcement “not look like a hostage video.”