Obama Says Battle With Bernie Sanders Made Hillary Clinton 'a Better Candidate'

The president also said it was a "healthy thing" to have a "contested primary."

June 8, 2016, 8:25 PM

— -- President Obama said the primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was a “healthy thing” for the Democratic Party and that his role going forward will be to remind people that the job of being president “is not reality TV," in an interview with “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

“It was a healthy thing for the Democratic Party to have a contested primary. I thought that Bernie Sanders brought enormous energy and new ideas. And he pushed the party and challenged them. I thought it made Hillary a better candidate,” the president said in an advance clip of the interview that will air in full on NBC tomorrow night.

The president stopped short of calling for Sanders to drop out of the race now that Clinton has officially surpassed the number of delegates needed to make her the presumptive Democratic nominee and said “there’s a natural process of everybody recognizing that this is not about any individual” after a hard-fought primary.

“I'm gonna be talkin' to him tomorrow, he's gonna be coming to the White House" the president said of Sanders. "And the main role I'm gonna be playing in this process is to remind the American people that this is a serious job. You know, this is not reality TV."

Asked by Fallon is he thinks Republicans are happy with their choice with Donald Trump now the presumptive nominee, the president quipped jokingly in reply, “We are.”

But after the audience had a chance to laugh at his initial reply, the president got serious in saying that he is actually “worried about the Republican Party."

“You want the Republican nominee to be somebody who could do the job if they win,” the president went on to say. “And you want folks who understand the issues. And where you can sit across the table from 'em and you have a principled argument. And ultimately can still move the country forward.”

“So I am actually not enjoying, and I haven't been enjoying over the last seven years, watching some of the things that have happened in the Republican Party,” he continued. “What’s happened in that party culminating in this current nomination, I think is not actually good for the country as a whole. It's not something Democrats should wish for. And my hope is, is that maybe once you get through this cycle, there's some corrective action and they get back to being a center right party.”

Asked if Trump has ever called him for advice, the president said “No, not that I know of.”