Obama has declared his neutrality in the Democratic primary race between Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but it’s pretty clear he favors his former secretary of state, as Politico’s Glenn Thrush notes in an interview with the president. The president of the United States “doesn’t have the luxury of just focusing on one thing,” Obama said. Clinton is under the burden “of being perceived as the frontrunner,” whereas Sanders is “the bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before.” He said that Clinton has been subject to “unfair scrutiny,” and that she was probably treated unfairly by the media back in 2008 as well. “She had a tougher job throughout that primary than I did,” he said. He acknowledged that she isn’t the greatest retail politician, but that in “small groups” she comes off as “wicked smart and knows every policy inside and out.” As Thrush writes, his apparent preference for Clinton’s pragmatic approach to politics seems to stem from his own experience in the Oval Office, which was characterized less by hope and change than dogged effort.
As for the idea that Sanders is the Barack Obama of the 2016 race? “I don’t think that’s true,” Obama told Thrush.