Leaping into his role as Democratic peacemaker, President Obama telephoned his party’s presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, and her defeated rival, Bernie Sanders, late on Tuesday, the White House said.
In separate calls, Obama congratulated Clinton “for securing the delegates necessary to clinch the Democratic nomination for president,” press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.
“Her historic campaign inspired millions and is an extension of her lifelong fight for middle-class families and children,” Earnest said.
Obama thanked Sanders “for energizing millions of Americans with his commitment to issues like fighting economic inequality and special interests’ influence on our politics,” according to the statement.
At Sanders’ request, Obama also invited the Vermont senator to the White House on Thursday.
“The president looks forward to continuing the conversation with Sen. Sanders about how to build on the extraordinary work he has done to engage millions of Democratic voters, and to build on that enthusiasm in the weeks and months ahead,” Earnest said.
Obama had technically not endorsed a candidate in the Democratic primaries, but left little doubt that he favored Clinton. Aides say that the president will now work to unite the Democratic Party heading into next month’s party convention and the November elections.
Sanders had hoped a big Tuesday in California would have given him some momentum, but Clinton won big victories there and in New Jersey. Sanders, sounding conciliatory, nevertheless vowed to fight on through next week’s primary in Washington, D.C.