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As Hillary Clinton inches closer to gaining the Democratic Party’s nomination for president of the United States, the nation’s current leader made a weighty appeal on the former first lady’s behalf. At a dinner last Friday, President Barack Obama appealed to donors at the private to rally around Clinton, The New York Times reports.

Obama said during the event that Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ campaign is nearing an end and the party should work to publicly back Clinton when that time comes, the Times writes.

The paper adds that Obama noted that some voters have a poor view of Clinton, despite her current lead in the delegates race nationwide. The president also made a comparison between George W. Bush and Sanders, noting that the former president was lauded for his public perception.

The Times reports:

Mr. Obama made the remarks after reporters had left a fund-raising event in Austin, Tex., for the Democratic National Committee. The comments were described by three people in the room for the event, all of whom were granted anonymity to describe a candid moment with the president. The comments were later confirmed by a White House official.

Mr. Obama chose his words carefully, and did not explicitly call on Mr. Sanders to quit the race, according to those in the room. Still, those in attendance said in interviews that they took his comments as a signal to Mr. Sanders that perpetuating his campaign, which is now an uphill climb, could only help the Republicans recapture the White House.

Mr. Obama’s message came at a critical juncture for Mr. Sanders, who had just upset Mrs. Clinton in the Michigan primary and has been trying to convince Democrats that his campaign is not over, despite Mrs. Clinton’s formidable lead in delegates.

Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were in Austin for a special fundraising event that tied in with the annual South By Southwest musical and technology festival. Obama’s comments cannot be counted as an endorsement, but political observers have taken notice of the comments considering the pair’s close relationship.

The Sanders camp responded, saying that the Vermont senator could still make a considerable leap in gaining delegates in the upcoming early primary races.

SOURCE: New York Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

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