Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) emerged from his White House meeting with President Obama today saying that the two “occasionally” discussed “a little bit of politics.”
And as he was meeting with Obama, Hillary Clinton’s camp accused her challenger of running of a nasty campaign.
The White House visit came after Obama characterized the Vermont senator as “the bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before — that’s a disadvantage to [Clinton].”
“I think that what Hillary presents is a recognition that translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics, making a real-life difference to people in their day-to-day lives,” Obama told Politico.
Sanders told reporters that he and Obama discussed “a number of issues, foreign policy issues, domestic issues.”
“But I enjoyed the meeting, and I thought it was a very positive and constructive meeting,” he added.
And then, steps from the mansion he wants to occupy, Sanders got down to campaign business. “We are, right now, as everybody knows, in a very tough campaign in Iowa. Then we’re going to New Hampshire. I think what the Iowa campaign ends up being about is one word, and that is turnout. We’re feeling really good about where we are, and if there is a large voter turnout — now, I’m not saying we could do what Barack Obama did in 2008. I wish we could but I don’t think we can,” he said.
“But if there is a large turnout, I think we win. If not, I think we’re going to be struggling. Then we go to New Hampshire, and we’re going to fight as hard as we can for a week in New Hampshire. And I’m thinking we have a pretty good chance there. Then we’re going to Nevada and South Carolina.”
A new Qunnipiac poll shows Sanders four points ahead of Clinton in Iowa. A new Emerson poll in New Hampshire has the senator eight points ahead of the former secretary of State.
Sanders said he did not ask Obama for an endorsement.
“What the president has tried to do, what Vice President Biden has tried to do, is to be as even-handed as they can be. And I know there was some discussion the other day about a Politico interview, where he was tipping the scale towards Secretary Clinton, I don’t believe that at all. I think he and the vice president tried to be fair and even-handed in the process, and I expect they will continue to be that way,” he said.
Asked if Clinton “has overplayed her closeness with the White House and with President Obama,” Sanders replied, “I think the people of Iowa will make that decision in a few days.”
Clinton’s camp blared out a press release today with the headline: “Facing Pressure, Sanders Turns to More Negative Attacks, Undermining Promise to Run a Different Kind of Campaign.”
Their definition of “attacks”? Calling out Hillary’s record, as the New York Times reported Sanders may do in TV ads.
“While this is a clear escalation, attacks from the Sanders campaign have been building for months. Just today, the Wall Street Journal wrote about how Bernie Sanders is using his stump speech to attack Secretary Clinton’s character,” the Hillary mailer continued.
“It’s disappointing that Senator Sanders has abandoned his claims of a positive campaign in order to parrot Karl Rove’s attacks against Hillary Clinton. From comparisons to Dick Cheney to personal attacks, Bernie Sanders and his campaign have repeatedly violated their pledge to run a different kind of campaign,” said Deputy Communications Director Christina Reynolds.
Sanders quickly headed back to Iowa for a packed schedule of events through caucus day.
The Clinton campaign is sending Bill Clinton on stops around Iowa on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get out the vote.