President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are scheduled to meet Wednesday at the White House for an informal discussion ahead of key early races in Iowa and New Hampshire, reports The Hill.
It’s unclear what the meeting signals, but ABC News notes that it comes after the president recently rejected any comparison between his campaign in 2008 and Sanders’ campaign in 2016. Iowa Caucuses are scheduled to be held Monday, while the New Hampshire primaries are scheduled for Feb. 9.
The meeting, which is closed to the press, could be awkward, given the president’s recent comments that seemingly downplayed the allure of the Sanders’ grassroots campaign. A White House spokeswoman suggested no photos are expected.
“The President and Senator Sanders first discussed this meeting last December when Senator Sanders attended the Congressional Holiday Ball,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest wrote in a statement confirming the 11:45 a.m. meeting. “The two will meet privately in the Oval Office and there will be no formal agenda.”
The meeting also comes days after Obama heaped praise on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in an interview with Politico, notes The Hill:
“Her strengths, which are the fact that she’s extraordinarily experienced — and, you know, wicked smart and knows every policy inside and out — sometimes could make her more cautious and her campaign more prose than poetry, but those are also her strengths,” Obama said.
“It means that she can govern and she can start here, [on] day one, more experienced than any non-vice president has ever been who aspires to this office.”
Obama has said in the past that he would not endorse candidates during the primary. What do you think the president and Sanders will discuss?