President Barack Obama put off his expected endorsement of Hillary Clinton as his successor during a visit Wednesday to New York City, instead praising the primary performances of his former secretary of state and her rival Bernie Sanders.
Obama indicated there is healing to be done among Democrats as they take on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
He poked fun at Trump in segments on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” that were both somber and jocular.
“The main role I’m going to be playing in this process is to remind the American people that this is a serious job,” he said, adding in a dig at Trump’s television career, “You know, this is not reality TV.”
He said he expected Democrats to “pull things together” over the next couple of weeks and likened the fight between Sanders and Clinton to that between him and Clinton during her first bid for the White House in 2008.
The presumptive Democratic nominee is “whip smart” and “deeply cares about working people and putting kids through school and making sure we’re growing our economy,” Obama said.
Sanders, a Vermont senator, “pushed the party and challenged them,” making Clinton a better candidate, Obama said.
The president was in Manhattan for the day to tape the “Tonight Show” and speak at two fundraisers — a roundtable for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a question-and-answer session for the Democratic National Committee. Guests at both events paid up to $33,400 to attend.
Obama was to meet Thursday morning in Washington, D.C., with Sanders, who is hosting a rally in the region later in the day. The president said he expected Sanders would endorse Clinton after the two had a “conversation.”
Asked by Fallon if he believed the GOP was happy with their nominee, Obama quipped of his fellow Democrats, “We are.”
He then grew serious, saying he wanted the Republican Party to thrive in its own right in order for the country to enjoy a “healthy two-party system.”
Democrats and others should want the GOP to have a presidential candidate who is ready to take the reins, Obama said.