President Obama formally endorsed Hillary Clinton via video Thursday, less than two hours after meeting with second-place primary finisher Bernie Sanders.
The Clinton campaign released the video in which the president says, “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.” The president said Clinton is “making history” as the first female presidential nominee of a major party, adding “I’m with her.”
“I look forward to meeting with her in the near future,” Sanders told reporters at the White House.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama has now spoken with Sanders three times in the last week, and “I think it’s fair to say Sen. Sanders was not surprised at all by today’s announcement” of the Clinton endorsement.
Obama, who aides say has been itching to hit the campaign trail, says in the video that, “I’m with her, I am fired up, and I cannot wait to get out there to campaign for Hillary.”
The president and Clinton have a joint appearance on Wednesday in Green Bay, Wisc.
Praising Clinton’s “courage” and “compassion,” Obama says: “Look, I know how hard this job can be — that’s why I know Hillary will be so good at it.”
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, reacted to the news by tweeting: “Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama — but nobody else does!”
After speaking with Obama for about an hour, Sanders did not indicate that he intended to withdraw from the race anytime soon and plans to contest Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Washington, D.C., by promoting the idea of statehood for the district.
The Vermont senator also said he plans to maintain his movement in an effort to change a political system in which “a handful of billionaires exercise enormous power over our political, economic and media life.” He also cited campaign plans ranging from health care to anti-poverty programs.
“These are the issues that we will take to the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia at the end of July,” he said.
While not discussing his meeting with Obama, Sanders thanked the president and Vice President Biden for “the degree of the impartiality” they displayed during his primary battle with Clinton.
As he prepared to endorse Clinton as his successor, Obama sought to use his meeting with Sanders as a way to build Democratic unity.
“When you look at the issues, there’s a pretty broad consensus about what it means to be a Democrat and what our values are, and what we’re fighting for,” Obama told party donors in New York on Wednesday, previewing his sit-down with Sanders.
Thursday events came just days after Clinton claimed enough convention delegates to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination, putting increased pressure on Sanders to exit the race.