Nearing the end of a lengthy primary fight, Democrats are coalescing around Hillary Clinton's presidential bid and looking to reunite the party through a carefully orchestrated plan aimed at nudging rival Bernie Sanders to make his exit.
President Barack Obama's endorsement of his former secretary of state on Thursday headlined a day of unity for Democrats as the party prepares for Republican Donald Trump. Amid the message of harmony, Sanders crisscrossed the nation's capital and received praise in meetings with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Democratic leaders.
Democrats are wary that divisions that emerged between Clinton and Sanders during the primaries might spill out during next month's Democratic National Convention or provide an opening to Trump, who is on course to become the Republican nominee. So unity has become Job 1 in the party.
Biden and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren joined that effort Thursday evening, both endorsing Clinton and signaling to many of Sanders' supporters that it's time to unite around the party's presumptive nominee.
Warren, the progressive stalwart, who has been positioning herself as one of Trump's toughest adversaries, had been the only holdout among the Senate's Democratic women. But she said she would do all that she can to prevent Trump from getting "any place close to the White House."
In his long-expected endorsement, delivered via an online video, Obama pointed to Clinton's grit and determination but also called for "embracing" Sanders' economic message, which has galvanised liberals and independents.
Trump responded to Obama's endorsement by tweeting: "Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama — but nobody else does!"
The Clinton campaign tweeted back, "Delete Your Account."
While Sanders stopped short of endorsing Clinton, he told reporters he planned to press for his issues — rather than victory — at the party's convention and he would meet with Clinton in the near future to discuss ways they could work together to defeat Trump.
Clinton declared victory over Sanders on Tuesday, having captured the number of delegates needed to become the first female nominee from a major party.
Obama's endorsement and Sanders' visit were the public culmination of that work. Leaders on the Hill underscored Obama's message. The party's delicate handling of the Vermont senator reflected Sanders supporters' deep distrust of the Democratic establishment and its meddling in the primary.