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President Obama: Grumpy Bernie Saying Whatever He Thinks Will Get Some Votes

Throughout the Democratic primary process, President Obama has made a point of not appearing to put his thumb on the scale for either candidate, sometimes doing a poor job of it. At a press availability Thursday morning, the President walked that line like a drunken toddler with vertigo, taking some poorly-coded shots at independent Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The President was first asked to weigh in on the ongoing Democratic primary process, and while he tried to couch his remarks in neutral terms, it was pretty clear who Obama was talking about.

The President repeatedly used the word “grumpy” to describe the dynamic in the Democratic primary, and urged “both sides” to shy away from attacks involving “personalities and character. Obama also obliquely referenced Hillary Clinton, whom he referred to as the mysteriously unidentifiable “eventual nominee”:

Would it be nice if everybody was immediately unified and singing Kumbaya, and whoever the nominee ended up being could just take a two-week vacation and recharge? Absolutely. I guarantee you that the eventual nominee sure wishes that it was over now.

In case there was any doubt as to whom the President was referring in that response, his reluctant answer to a later followup badly gave away the game. Obama again disclaimed all of his responses in neutral language, but the question was specifically about Bernie Sanders’ attacks on Hillary Clinton over things like Wall Street speeches:

During the course of a primary, people say what they think might help them get some votes. And once the campaign’s over, they move on, and they make an assessment in terms of how they can make sure that the vision they care most deeply about has the best chance of passing a congress and getting signed by a president, and that Supreme Court nominees are confirmed, all the things that make for an effective, functioning government.

With so little time remaining in the Democratic primaries, it is unlikely that President Obama will formally endorse a candidate before the nominee is selected, but his remarks here indicate, in not very subtle terms, that he’d like it to be over, and he’d like to be able to say #ImWithHer.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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