- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2016

The White House refuted a report Thursday that President Obama privately told Democratic donors the party’s presidential primary is essentially over and Sen. Bernard Sanders would soon end his campaign.

“It is not what he in fact said,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

The New York Times, citing three people who attended the Democratic fundraiser last Friday in Austin, Texas, reported that Mr. Obama told donors that Mr. Sanders is nearing the point where his campaign against Hillary Clinton will come to an end, and that the party must soon come together to back her. The president reportedly acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton is perceived to have weaknesses, and that some Democrats don’t view her as authentic.

But he downplayed the complaint about her lack of authenticity, saying some people once viewed Republican President George W. Bush as authentic.

Mr. Earnest, who attended the portion of the fundraiser after reporters were kicked out of the event, said Mr. Obama “made a case that would be familiar” to journalists who cover him.

He said the president spoke of the need for Democrats to be “mindful of the fact that our success in November, in electing a Democratic president, will depend on the commitment and ability of the Democratic Party to come together behind our nominee.”

“The president did not indicate or specify a preference in the race,” he said.

Mr. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama cast absentee ballots in the Illinois Democratic primary this week, and Mr. Earnest said their votes would be kept private.

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