As he is surging ahead in the polls, potentially inching him closer to the White House, Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders sat down for a private meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
Following the 45-minute private meeting, Sanders spoke to a handful of reporters outside of the White House. He said that the aim of the meeting was to keep himself “updated on some of the current issues,” which included discussions on ISIS, Iran and Syria.
In response to a question posed by Rare, Sanders said that he agrees with President Obama’s approach to tackling ISIS, which is largely reliant on airstrikes on ISIS hubs by the United States and a coalition of 65 nations. Critics have said that the president should do more to combat ISIS on the ground.
“I think what the president is trying to do, is the right thing,” Sanders told Rare. “What he is trying to do is keep our young men and women in the military out of perpetual war in the quagmire of the Middle East and what he is trying to do, and what I will try to do is put together a coalition of the major powers with the Muslim people on the ground, Muslim nations, Muslim troops,” he added.
“This is a war for the soul of Islam against people like ISIS and their barbarity that has hijacked that religion,” Sanders said, adding “at the end of the day, it must be the Muslim people and their militaries to destroy ISIS with the support of the major powers.”
Days ahead of the Iowa caucus, Sanders said that he differs from his primary competitor for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, on the issue of the Iraq War, saying he voted against the war as senator of Vermont, while Clinton did not. “We both received the same information and we came to a different conclusion,” Sanders said.
This meeting with the president comes days after Obama sang Clinton’s praises during an interview with Politico, calling the former secretary of state “wicked smart.” Sanders said he did not ask the president for his endorsement during the closed-door, private meeting.
“I think he and the Vice President have tried to be fair and even-handed in the process and I expect they will continue to be that way,” Sanders said of Obama waiting to weigh in on the Democratic race.