- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2016

Showing signs of preparing to quit his campaign, Sen. Bernard Sanders emerged from a meeting with President Obama Thursday and said he’ll work with Hillary Clinton to defeat presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“I am going to do everything in my power, and I will work as hard as I can, to make sure that Donald Trump does not become president of the United States,” Mr. Sanders told reporters at the White House.

He said of Mrs. Clinton, “I look forward to meeting with her in the near future to see how we can work together to defeat Donald Trump and to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent.”

While Mr. Sanders said he’ll compete in the District of Columbia primary next week, he said his campaign in the next few days will be focused mainly on promoting statehood for the District.

The socialist candidate blasted Mr. Trump, saying the Republican would be “a disaster” as president.

“It is unbelievable to me, and I say this in all sincerity, that the Republican Party would have a candidate for president who in the year 2016 makes bigotry and discrimination the cornerstone of his campaign,” Mr. Sanders said.

“In  my view, the American people will not vote for or tolerate a candidate who insults Mexicans and Latinos, who insults Muslims, who insults African-Americans, and women.”

Mr. Sanders drew huge crowds around the country in his upstart campaign, and has given Mrs. Clinton an unexpectedly tough battle with his rhetoric accusing her of cozying up to Wall Street. He didn’t say explicitly Thursday that he is conceding, and said he’ll keep pushing for his progressive campaign issues — more generous Social Security benefits, better health care, higher tuition aid and more spending on infrastructure.

“These are some of the issues that many millions of Americans have supported during my campaign,” he said. “These are the issues that we will take to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia at the end of July.”

He took no questions from reporters, and walked away from shouted questions with his wife, Jane.

The Vermont independent’s meeting with the president lasted more than one hour. The White House, eager to please Mr. Sanders in hopes of party unity, treated him like a foreign head of state, arranging for news photographers to record the senator walking with Mr. Obama in amiable conversation along the Colonnade next to the Rose Garden.

Mr. Sanders later praised Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden for “the degree of impartiality” they showed in the Democratic primary.

“They said they would not put their thumb on the scales, and they kept their word,” Mr. Sanders said. “I appreciate that greatly.”

Mr. Obama met with Mr. Sanders in the Oval Office, hoping to give the populist presidential candidate a tactful push toward a clear surrender to Mrs. in their hard-fought battle for the Democratic nomination.

With some Sanders‘ supporters urging their candidate to keep pressing on toward the Democratic convention next month, Mr. Obama has the delicate job of trying to show a clear end to the primary season so he and Mrs. Clinton can focus on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

But Mr. Obama also doesn’t want to appear to be applying too heavy a hand with Mr. Sanders, whose millions of liberal supporters will be needed by Mrs. Clinton in the general election.

“My hope is, is that over the next couple of weeks, we’re able to pull things together,” Mr. Obama told “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon in an interview airing Thursday. “And what happens during primaries, you get a little ‘ouchy.’ Everybody does.”

He said the contested primary has been “a healthy thing for the Democratic Party.”

“I thought that Bernie Sanders brought enormous energy and new ideas,” the president said. “And he pushed the party and challenged them. I thought it made Hillary a better candidate.”

In the afternoon Mr. Sanders met with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who said when Mr. Sanders does end his campaign, he will be eagerly welcomed back to the chamber by Democrats.

Mr. Reid said he’d issued an invite to Mr. Sanders to speak to Democrats at their weekly senators lunch.

“I feel Bernie’s in a good place with the caucus,” Mr. Reid said.

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