(JTA) — Responding to reports that President Barack Obama called on Democrats to rally around Hillary Clinton as the likely nominee, Bernie Sanders said he would not drop out of the race.
Obama privately told a group of Democratic donors on March 11 that Sanders was nearing the point at which his campaign against Clinton would end, and that the party must soon come together to back Clinton, the New York Times reported Thursday.
“The bottom line is that when only half of the American people have participated in the political process … I think it is absurd for anybody to suggest that those people not have a right to cast a vote,” Sanders, who is Jewish, told MSNBC in an interview on Thursday.
Clinton has won the Illinois, North Carolina, Florida and Ohio primaries — crucial victories that bolster her claim that she is her party’s only candidate who can win diverse states that will be pivotal in the November general election.
Sanders, a senator from Vermont and self-proclaimed democratic socialist, said he did not want to comment directly on Obama’s reported remarks but he pushed back on the idea that his campaign had run its course and he should throw in the towel.
The White House on Thursday said Obama did not indicate which candidate he preferred in his remarks to the donors.
Clinton, a former secretary of state in the Obama administration, has a large lead in the race for the Democratic nomination. Sanders said he will do better in upcoming contests in western states, after losing to Clinton in a number of southeastern states.
“To suggest we don’t fight this out to the end would be, I think, a very bad mistake. People want to become engaged in the political process by having vigorous primary and caucus process,” he said.