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Here's why Obama won't crown Clinton

The Washington Examiner, May 6, 2016

Here's why Obama won't crown Clinton

By NICOLE DURAN 5/6/16 12:01 AM

The White House won't pressure Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to drop out of Democratic presidential contest even as Republicans have grudgingly started to coalesce around Donald Trump.

Conventional wisdom holds that the party that chooses its nominee first has a general election advantage, but President Obama and the White House have kept to their promise not to play kingmaker.

"[W]e haven't reached the general election yet," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday when asked when Obama will join the fray.

Michael Meehan, a former senior aide to Secretary of State John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said pressuring Sanders to drop his bid could actually hurt Obama and the party.

"The major strategic imperative is to allow the Sanders followers the ability to come back into the fold," Meehan said. "There has been a level of acrimony in the Democratic primary" that would only be exacerbated by calls from the White House for Sanders to drop out, he said.

Neither Clinton nor Obama want to appear to be shutting down the primary process before all voting ends, or before Sanders himself is ready to call it quits, Meehan added. That would appear "heavy handed."

Underscoring that, if Obama and Clinton or Obama and Sanders are slated to attend the same function, the White House makes sure it's never at the same time.

That can create dissonance, such as what happened Thursday night at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies' annual dinner in Washington. Clinton spoke briefly at a reception beforehand to clear the premises before Obama was slated to deliver the dinner's keynote speech.

Still, Democrats on hand treated the former secretary of state like the official nominee.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., introduced Clinton as "the next president of the United States." The Asian Pacific American Caucus chairwoman then went on to extoll all that Clinton has done for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California, who was being feted at the dinner, discussed with the Washington Examiner how Clinton shouldn't let Trump's coronation affect her campaign.

"Hillary should be Hillary," he advised. He then discussed the "clear choice" voters will have between Clinton in Trump in November.

The Democratic Party machinery, however, cannot make such assumptions, and are fundraising and preparing Democrats to vote for any candidate who makes it. On Thursday the Democratic National Committee sent an email signed by First Lady Michelle Obama asking recipients to add their name to the list of those saying, "you're in to elect Democrats" before seeking donations.

Democrats can't let Trump gain the fundraising initiative just because he's sewn up the nomination, Meehan said. Democrats have to try and motivate donors too, but must use generic solicitations such as the one signed by Michelle Obama.

Earnest said that all Obama really cares about is making sure a Democrat wins on Election Day.

The "president's interest in this is primarily rooted in his desire to see a successor who is committed to building on the progress that we've made over the last eight years," Earnest said.