President Obama had a private meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders at the White House on Wednesday. Their meeting had no formal agenda and was casual and comfortable. The meeting happened days before the critical Iowa caucus, and just days after mass media translated parts of an Obama speech to mean strong support for Mrs. Clinton. After rejecting any comparisons of his own presidential campaign and Bernie Sanders’ campaign, President Obama welcomed the Democratic presidential contender to the Oval Office today for a private, informal meeting.
After their conversation, Bernie said he and Obama discussed domestic and foreign policy, and “a little bit of politics.” Obama updated him on progress against the ISIS terrorist group, and ongoing diplomacy with Iran. Senator Sanders called the meeting “productive and constructive,” and said he expects President Obama and Vice President Biden “to be fair” to the Democratic presidential candidates during the primary. Bernie brushed off a suggestion President Obama favors Hillary Clinton.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Bernie Sanders compared Obama’s 2008 performance in Iowa ahead of this year’s caucuses. Bernie said,
“We’re feeling really good about where we are, and if there is a large voter turnout. I’m not saying we could do what Barack Obama did in 2008. I wish we could, but I don’t think we can. But If there is a large turnout, I think we win.”
Bernie Sanders also met with President Obama privately in December of 2014. Bernie agreed he has had disagreements with the president on trade and taxes, but that he stood “by his side” in legislative battles on Capitol Hill against Republicans.
President Obama has insisted he will not endorse a Democrat until the party has settled on a nominee. The idea for a Sanders/Obama meeting came up in December at the Congressional Ball. Bernie suggested then that it would be nice to have a more formal sit-down. Bernie declared President Barack Obama was “even-handed” in his assessments of the presidential race. Emerging from the White House after meeting with President Obama, Bernie said he wasn’t bothered by a recent interview in which Obama appeared to be tilting toward his former secretary of state.
“I think he and the vice president have tried to be fair and even-handed in the process, and I expect they will continue to do that.”