Sanders confident Obama will back him if he wins nomination

Sanders confident Obama will back him if he wins nomination
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSteyer endorses Biden for president Sanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Sanders 2020 press secretary: Democratic leadership interested in 'corporate status quo' or 'they're planning to replace Joe' MORE (I-Vt.) expressed “absolute confidence” that former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama warns group of mayors that the 'biggest mistake' is to 'misinform' during the pandemic Biden releases plans to expand Medicare, forgive student debt Trump's self-interest is at odds with safe coronavirus policy MORE would back him if he becomes the party’s presidential nominee during an interview with CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles Thursday.

“I’m not going to tell you that he and I are best friends, but we’re friends,” Sanders said. “I have talked to him, on and off, for the last many years … I talk to him on the telephone every now and then.”

“He is an icon, clearly, of the Democratic party, and I have absolute confidence that he will play a vigorous, vigorous role, I think he has said this, in the [general election] campaign, and we need him, no question about it,” Sanders added. “If I win, I’m sure he’ll be there at my side, if somebody else wins, he’ll be there at their side.”

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“I expect … that he will play an enormously important role in helping us to defeat Trump,” the Vermont senator concluded.

Sanders has opened a commanding lead in recent national polls, leading the Democratic group of primary candidates by double digits in several recent surveys before crucial nominating contests taking place in coming weeks like the Nevada caucuses, South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday. 

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It remains unclear, however, whether delegate allocation will result in him winning a simple majority ahead of the Democratic National Convention, raising the specter of a potential brokered convention in such a scenario.

During Obama's presidency, Sanders sometimes criticized Obama from the left and, during Obama's first term, suggested a primary challenge if the administration cut Social Security. Advisers to the former president have said he has considered weighing in on the primaries if Sanders pulls ahead, but Obama has remained steadfast in his position of neutrality thus far, stating that he will "work [his] tail off" in support of any nominee.

Asked if he believed Obama’s hands-off approach to the primary thus far had been appropriate, Sanders responded “I do … everybody, I’m sure, is tugging at his sleeve, I’ve talked to him a couple of times in the last month or two, and I’m sure everybody else has. By the way, he did this in 2016 as well, and I think that’s exactly the right thing. I don’t want to talk for him, but I think his view is ‘play it out’.”