Just days after President Barack Obama appeared to support Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations, Senator Bernie Sanders, her major rival, has taken part in an Oval Office meeting with the President. This rare meeting is a sign of Obama desire to be seen as “even-handed” about the race, according to Sanders himself. He also described the meeting as “constructive”.
Previously, Obama has been seen to be favoring Clinton, who was previously his secretary of state. He has not openly endorsed either candidate, although in an interview with Politico he pointed out that Sanders “has the luxury of being a complete long shot” and denied any association of Sanders’ run with his own presidential race. Obama also implied that Sanders would need to come under more scrutiny from the public before he was seen as a viable option as the Democratic candidate.
According to the White House, the meeting took place due to a request from Sanders to meet with Obama when the two attended a lawmakers holiday party a month ago. Whilst Clinton has visited the White House for an informal lunch and a chat in the past year, Sanders only previous visit was in December of 2014.
This meeting of Sanders with the President comes just before the first contests to pick the presidential nominees. Iowa will vote on Monday, followed by New Hampshire on the 9th of February. Sanders has seen a recent surge in polling numbers, especially in the first two states, but Clinton is still ahead nationwide.