Sen. Bernie Sanders said at the White House on Thursday that he plans to compete in next week's D.C. primary, but he underscored that he "will work as hard as I can" to stop presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in the general election.
Sanders spoke after he met with President Barack Obama — three days after media outlets determined that Hillary Clinton had enough commitments from delegates to become the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee and two days after her convincing victories in primaries in California and New Jersey.
Some pundits had speculated that Obama would seek to persuade Sanders to drop out of the race, so the Democratic Party could rally around Clinton in preparation for a general election battle against Trump.
Instead, the Vermont senator implied that he is willing to play ball with the Clinton camp even if he does not become the Democratic nominee.
"Needless to say, I am going to do everything in my power, and I will work as hard as I can, to make sure that Donald Trump does not become president of the United States," Sanders said.
"It is unbelievable to me, and I say this with all sincerity, that the Republicans have a candidate for president who, in the year 2016, makes bigotry and discrimination the cornerstone of his campaign," Sanders said of Trump. "In my view the American people will not vote for or tolerate a candidate who insults Mexicans and Latinos, who insults Muslims, who insults African-Americans and women."
Obama had no public comments immediately after meeting with Sanders but the president endorsed Clinton in a video released later in the afternoon.
"I am with her. I am fired up, and I cannot wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary," Obama said in the video.
Although the declarations of Clinton's presumptive victory were based on her delegate haul, Sanders is not technically eliminated from the race because he could theoretically sway the Democrats unbound "super" delegates to his side. Still, that would be a tough sell for him: Clinton won more primary contests, more of the popular vote and more regular pledged delegates.
In a Tuesday evening statement, the White House said Obama had called Clinton to congratulate her on "securing the delegates necessary to clinch the Democratic nomination for president." Obama also called Sanders, the statement said, and made plans for the Thursday meeting — which had been requested by the senator.
Despite Sanders' crushing losses in the delegate-heavy California and New Jersey contests, the senator's camp has given no indication that it plans to call it quits.
In a late Tuesday evening address from California, Sanders pledged to "continue the fight" into next week for the D.C. primary, and then on to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.
During his Thursday statement, Sanders revealed that he spoke "briefly" with Clinton on Tuesday night and "congratulated her on her very strong campaign."
"I look forward to meeting with her in the near future to see how we can work together to defeat Donald Trump and to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent," Sanders concluded, pointing to a potentially cooperative future with his primary opponent.