Hillary vs. Bernie: Obama Isn’t Getting Involved

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President Obama has officially announced that he will not be endorsing a candidate in the increasingly contentious Democratic primary between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders. This comes after some speculation that a recent op-ed written by Obama about gun control was essentially criticism of Bernie Sanders, but this morning on “Meet the Press,” Obama’s White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made it clear that no endorsement was intended, and Obama does not plan on endorsing a candidate in the primary.

McDonough referenced the fact that Obama’s actions come with plenty of precedent, stating: “We’ll do exactly what has been done in the past.” He also added that no matter who the nominee ends up being, he will be “out there” campaigning. According to Fox News this is pretty traditional behavior:

George W. Bush didn’t endorse his party’s nominee in 2008 until March 5, by which point Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had just about locked up the bid. Ronald Reagan didn’t endorse his sitting Vice President, George H. W. Bush, as the Republican nominee until May 1988. Reagan said he wanted to wait until the outcome of the nomination race was clear.

McDonough’s statement came after Obama published an op-ed in the New York Times late last week where he stated: “I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform.”

Some viewed this as an attack on Bernie Sanders, who hasn’t taken as hardline a stance on gun control as Hillary Clinton throughout his career in the Senate. A point of particular contention has been that he supported a 2005 law that would give gun manufacturers legal immunity in instances where their guns are used to commit crimes.

However, Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, indicated that the quote in Obama’s op-ed wasn’t any sort of reference to Sanders, saying:

The President was quite intentional about raising this issue as it relates to gun manufacturers, but that was not any sort of secret or subtle signal to demonstrate a preference in the presidential primary.

Earnest also pointed out that Obama wasn’t “intimately familiar” with Sanders’ voting record. So, while it isn’t surprising that Obama isn’t endorsing any candidate until the primaries are over, in this case it appeared that a repeat was necessary.

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at amahoney@LawStreetMedia.com.



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