US President Barack Obama congratulated Hillary Clinton on Tuesday for clinching the Democratic presidential nomination, and planned to meet with her party rival Bernie Sanders later this week, the White House said.
Obama called Clinton and Sanders and “congratulated both candidates for running inspiring campaigns that have energized Democrats, brought a new generation of Americans into the political process, and shined a spotlight on important policy ideas,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.
He also said the president will meet with Sanders at the White House, “at Sanders’ request,” on Thursday.
The late night statement, coming on the final night of major primaries in the combative nominations race, fuels speculation about whether the self-described democratic socialist Sanders would take his fight all the way to the Democratic convention in July, as he has repeatedly insisted, or concede defeat.
Sanders was to make a highly-anticipated address to supporters later Tuesday night in California, the most populous state in the nation and a contest he was battling fiercely to win.
He has argued that a strong finish Tuesday in the six states, particularly in the trophy state of California, would bolster his argument for remaining in the race.
But Clinton had already won New Jersey, South Dakota and New Mexico on Tuesday, according to US networks, and was leading Sanders by a substantial margin in California.
Sanders was projected to win North Dakota.
Obama thanked Sanders for “energizing millions of Americans” with his campaign highlighting the fight to end economic inequality and the influence of special interests on US politics, according to Earnest.
The president, who has expressed a keenness to enter the political fray and help the Democrat who goes up against Republican Donald Trump in the general election, was eager to work with Sanders “to engage millions of Democratic voters, and to build on that enthusiasm in the weeks and months ahead,” Earnest said.