The White House denied reports Thursday that President Obama told a group of party faithful in Texas over the weekend that he soon will endorse Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
"No, it is not what he in fact said," White House spokesman Josh Earnest responded about whether the report was accurate.
"I was there for the part where this conversation occurred," Earnest said. "What I'll just say in general is that President Obama made a case that would be familiar to all of you, which is that as Democrats move through this competitive primary process, we need to be mindful of the fact that our success in November, in electing a Democratic president, will depend on the commitment and ability of the Democratic Party to come together behind our nominee," Earnest explained.
"And the president did not indicate or specify a preference in the race," Earnest said unequivocally.
Obama voted in the Illinois primary Tuesday, but Earnest would not say whether he voted for native daughter Clinton or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Once Democratic voters select a nominee, Obama "will have an important responsibility … in bringing the party together and making sure that even after a vigorous debate, which the president, by the way, believes is really good for the party." Earnest said this year is just like 2008, when Obama and Clinton went down to the wire over the nomination, Earnest said.
Such "competition is good for sharpening the skills of the candidates and exercising the organizational muscle of the Democratic Party," he reiterated. "But once this process comes to a conclusion, everybody in the Democratic Party will understand the stakes of the debate and given those stakes, will need to unify behind the Democratic Party nominee to ensure that he or she can win in November," he concluded.