Obama privately said he would speak up to stop Sanders: report

President Obama privately said he would speak up to stop Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHow can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? Biden rallies with John Kerry in early primary states Buttigieg campaign says 2000 people attended Iowa rally MORE (I-Vt.) from becoming the Democratic presidential nominee, Politico reported Tuesday.

The former president reportedly said if Sanders held a strong lead in the Democratic primary, he would speak out to prevent him from becoming the nominee.  

A close adviser to Obama told Politico he could not confirm whether Obama would stand up against Sanders.

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“He hasn’t said that directly to me,” the adviser said. “The only reason I'm hesitating at all is because, yeah, if Bernie were running away with it, I think maybe we would all have to say something. But I don't think that's likely. It's not happening.” 

An Obama spokesperson, when asked about his previous comments on Sanders, referred to the president’s past comments that he would back whomever became the Democratic nominee.

“Look, we have a field of very accomplished, very serious and passionate and smart people who have a history of public service, and whoever emerges from the primary process I will work my tail off to make sure that they are the next president,” Obama said earlier this month, according to his spokesperson.

Obama has stayed quiet throughout the campaign about which candidate he would support, but has offered to meet with any candidate in the primary and has given advice to those who meet with him, according to the news outlet.

A close adviser told Politico that “I can’t even imagine with this field how bad it would have to be for him to say something,” referring to Obama speaking out against a candidate.

But earlier this month, the former president warned the 2020 candidates of leaning too far left at a speaking engagement, saying “the average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”

Politico also described the relationship between Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE (D-Mass.) and Obama as “famously complicated.” The former president reportedly said in a private conversation that if Democrats supported her when she was considering a 2016 run, it would serve as a rejection of his economic policies. 

The Hill reached out to the Sanders and Warren campaigns for comment.