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On Wednesday, the president and Sanders are set to meet “informally” in the Oval Office, according to the White House. The Sanders campaign has repeatedly compared their grassroots and fundraising support to the Obama 2008 campaign and Clinton is mentioning her loyalty and connections to the president consistently on the campaign trail, noting how she is “proud of the progress we have made under President Obama.”
It may be an awkward meeting, in an interview with Politico this week, the president distanced himself from Sanders, seeming to embrace Clinton despite assurances the White House would remain neutral in the increasingly bitter intra-party fight.
Here are five reasons why Bernie Sanders may not be the Barack Obama of 2016:
1. Obama Said So
The president has promised to stay neutral, but in an interview this week on a Politico podcast, Obama seemed to make his preference known, instead dismissing the idea that Sanders’ current approach is comparable to his 2008 campaign.
"No, I don't think -- I don't think that's true," Obama told Politico’s Glenn Thrush. "I think Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete long-shot and just letting loose. I think Hillary came in with the -- both privilege and burden of being perceived as the front-runner."
Obama added, “You’re always looking at the bright, shiny object that people haven’t seen before — that’s a disadvantage to her.”
2. More Akin to Dean
Former Obama campaign staffer and speechwriter Jon Favreau told Bloomberg Sanders’ campaign “resembles Howard Dean's a lot more than it resembles Barack Obama's,” adding “Hillary is much closer to Obama than Bernie is.”
Favreau said that was attributable to Obama's pragmatism compared to Sanders' ideas, which require a "political revolution," the Bloomberg piece said.
3. High Profile Endorsers
In 2008, Ted Kennedy shocked the political establishment -- and the country -- by backing Obama over Clinton. He wasn’t alone. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and then-Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine were endorsers of Obama over Clinton. This time it’s all with Clinton. She has more congressional and gubernatorial support than any candidate running on either side of the aisle. Only two members of congress have backed Sanders.
And just two weeks away from the critical New Hampshire primary, both the New Hampshire Union-Leader and Boston Globe have backed Clinton when last time they went to Obama.
In 2008, Clinton and Obama also split the labor support with big name groups like the SEIU and UFCW supporting Obama over Clinton. This time, Sanders does have some labor backing, including the Communications Workers of America, National Nurses United and the American Postal Workers Union, but Clinton has much more, with 22 national labor unions –- including many that backed Obama in 2008 -– supporting the former Secretary of State.
4. Minority Support
In 2008, Obama had the overwhelming support of African American voters going to him over Clinton 82 to 15 percent. In current polling it's Hillary Clinton leading with minority voters. In a CNN/ORC national poll out this week Clinton has 58 percent support of non-white voters to Sanders' 34. And in a Fox News poll, also released this week Clinton comes in with 59 percent to Sanders' 27.
5. Demographic Difference
Sanders is running as an outsider candidate, but was first elected to Congress in 1990. He has been in Washington ever since, rising from a House seat to the United States Senate. In 2008, the 45-year-old Obama was much derided by both Clinton and Sen. John McCain as just a first term senator and community organizer without the experience necessary, but did run as an agent of hope and change.
Even with those differences, the 74-year old is galvanizing the youth vote, as Obama did. And as Obama was the first African-American president, Sanders would be the first Jewish one.
MaryAlice Parks and Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.