© Greg Nash
President Obama on Thursday dismissed the notion he’s trying to tip the scales of the Democratic presidential primary in favor of Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham Clinton5 ways politics could steal the show at Oscars Lewandowski: Perez ‘doesn’t understand what’s going on in America’ Five takeaways from the Scott Pruitt emails MORE, his former secretary of State.
In a speech to House Democrats at their annual retreat in Baltimore, Obama confidently predicted the party would maintain control of the White House in November.
“Everyone’s scouring my every word to find some deeper meaning, see if I’m trying to put my finger on the scales,” he told lawmakers.
“So let me simplify things. Tonight I have an announcement to make about the presidential race,” he continued. “Democrats will win in November and we will have a Democratic president succeeding me.”
The president said his party would stay united, even as Clinton has become tangled in a close race with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersLewandowski: Perez ‘doesn’t understand what’s going on in America’ Sanders dodges question on whether he will give email list to DNC Sanders: Ellison ran impressive campaign 'playing inside the establishment's house' MORE (I-Vt.), a liberal firebrand with a passionate, grassroots following.
“Obviously, it is election season and the press has been focused on debates and divisions they can drum up within the primary and within our party,” Obama said.
“And I’m not worried about this party staying united. They other side may have some stuff to work out. But our trajectory is clear.”
The president is trying to demonstrate he’s neutral in the race to succeed him, even though Clinton is widely viewed as his preferred candidate.
Obama’s comments on the Democratic primary are his first since he heaped praise on his former top diplomat in an interview with Politico, saying she is the most qualified candidate to serve in the Oval Office and continue his legacy.
Obama lauded Sanders for energizing the Democratic base with his focus on income inequality. But he also called Sanders a “bright, shiny object” for voters who as opposed to the more experienced Clinton.
To show he's not officially taking sides, Obama went so far as to sit down with Sanders for 45 minutes in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
Sanders emerged from the meeting saying the president had treated both Clinton and him in an "even-handed" way.
“There was some discussion the other day about a Politico interview where he was tipping the scales towards Secretary Clinton. I don’t believe that at all,” the Vermont senator told reporters at the White House.