White House won't rule out Obama primary endorsement

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The White House on Monday said President Obama may offer an endorsement in the Democratic primary, which could pit his former secretary of State against his vice president.

Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPence on Trump threats to sue accusers: He's entitled to defend reputation Clinton gets birthday cheer on Hispanic variety show Warren slams GOP Sen. Burr as 'puppy on a leash' for backing Trump MORE is the front-runner for the party's nomination, but Vice President Biden is looking at the race.

“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an endorsement during the Democratic primary,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday. 

But Earnest offered few clues about which candidate the president might ultimately endorse. 

“I have indicated that the president does plan to vote in the Illinois primary, and that ultimately it will be Democratic voters who are responsible for choosing the Democratic nominee,” he said. 

The spokesman heaped praise on Biden, reiterating Obama’s decision to make Biden his running mate “was the smartest decision that he'd ever made in politics.”

He also said there is “no one in American politics today” who better understands what it takes to run for president than Biden, who has run twice previously for the nation’s highest office. 

Citing Biden’s own end-of-summer deadline to make a decision, Earnest said he expects the vice president to make a decision within the next month. 

He also cited Obama’s “respect, appreciation and admiration” of Clinton’s service as secretary of State. 

Earnest downplayed the doubts swirling around Clinton’s campaign, saying no one thought Obama had a chance to win the nomination at this point in 2007. 

“There are dangers in assuming the outcome 15 months in advance,” he told reporters. “Warn people against drawing conclusions at such an early stage.”

Biden is said to be considering challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination, amid concerns about her poll numbers and the controversy surrounding her use of a private email server while she was the nation’s top diplomat. 

Biden and Obama had lunch on Monday in their first face to face meeting since the vice president ramped up his efforts to explore a run for president.