Countdown to Bern-out time

It won’t be an arm-twisting, but more like a massage — with a message. Bernie Sanders meets Thursday with President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders who want to gently coax him on a path toward exiting the presidential race so the party can unite behind Hillary Clinton.

“Let him make that decision. Give him time,” Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday when asked if it was time for Sanders to bow out.

“My hope is that over the next couple of weeks we’re able to pull things together,” Obama said on NBC’s “Tonight Show.”

Newsday’s Emily Ngo covered Obama’s New York visit.

There was no quit in Sanders’ speech to supporters in Santa Monica late Tuesday following the latest round of primaries in which the top prizes, California and New Jersey, decisively went Clinton’s way. But half of his campaign staff was laid off.

A statement from Obama took note of Clinton “securing the delegates necessary to clinch the Democratic nomination for president” — a victory she formally claimed.

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Obama is expected to endorse Clinton in the coming days. Sanders has said he will be campaigning for the final Democratic primary Tuesday in the District of Columbia, and ABC News reported it was unlikely Obama would appear with Clinton until afterward. A big Sanders rally is set for Thursday night at RFK Stadium in Washington.

Sanders is also to meet Thursday with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who with Obama, Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are expected to play key roles in brokering peace between Sanders and Clinton, according to The Washington Post. Two Sanders supporters on Capitol Hill, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, said he should stand down.

Sanders’ wife, Jane, will have a big influence on his decision. “She’s as powerful as Hillary was in Bill’s ’92 campaign,” a Sanders supporter told Politico. “As she goes, so goes Bernie.”

High fives, pointed fingers

Clinton aides and allies say her campaign against Sanders didn’t buckle during tough times to the kind of feuding and second-guessing from within and without that undermined her 2008 effort versus Obama.

“We just stuck together,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager and a target of early shake-up rumors, told The Associated Press.

As for Sanders, a Politico autopsy depicts a combative and often angry candidate who overrode some aides on strategic decisions in the campaign’s final month.

The take-away: Endorsements

The value of endorsements is dubious, especially when clearly halfhearted, like Paul Ryan’s of Donald Trump, or coming from past political enemies, like Jerry Brown of Clinton, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison. Political veterans say a figure’s popularity or appeal, even if substantial, usually is not transferable.

Hiatus, bye-atus

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Trump’s self-imposed moratorium on talking about the Trump University lawsuit and the federal judge handling it didn’t last long after it was issued Tuesday afternoon. He talked about it again Tuesday night with Sean Hannity on Fox News (video here) and with Bloomberg News and columnist Cal Thomas on Wednesday.

After his TelePrompTer-assisted speech Tuesday night that was hailed by Republicans such as party chairman Reince Priebus (“Exactly the right approach and perfectly delivered”), Trump was back on Twitter Wednesday morning complaining about MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” (“Nobody is watching @Morning_Joe anymore. Gone off the deep end - bad ratings.”)

Meanwhile the litigation-vexed Trump may have another judge to contend with before Election Day. He is being sued by members of the former Ritz Carlton Golf Club in Jupiter Fla., and the Palm Beach Post reports the case has been set for August.

Money isn’t everything

Trump backed away in the Bloomberg News interview from his own fundraising goal of $1 billion — refusing to commit to even half that amount — and said his campaign didn’t need that much “because I get so much publicity.”

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His comments came as Politico reported, based on interviews with more than a dozen major GOP donors and fundraisers who’ve signed on to help Trump, that he might have trouble raising even $300 million.

“There’s just a lot of negativity about Trump as a person,” said Dale Dykema, who is supporting a Trump super PAC. “When he comes out with these crazy things, like with the judge, people just want to turn off.”

The Manhattan Republican Party has sent out invites to a Trump fundraising breakfast on June 22. New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and RNC Chairman Reince Preibus are involved in the host committee.

Clinton Trump-trashing tour

The Democrats’ presumptive nominee expanded her attacks on Trump in a blitz of interviews Wednesday. To The Associated Press, she said Trump is behaving like a “demagogue,” likening his attacks on judges, the media, his opponents and their families to dark moments in world history.

She told The Wall Street Journal (pay site) that Trump’s economic ideas are “deeply misguided” and “dangerously incoherent.”

What else is happening:

  • Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt said the Republican Party should change convention rules to deny Trump the nomination. Trump adviser Dan Scavino Jr. responded that Hewitt should be barred from attending the convention ...
  • A Washington Post graphic sizes up 27 potential running mates for Clinton. She told ABC News Tuesday “We don’t have a short list yet” ...
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he meant it as a compliment when he called Trump an “absurd amateur.” His point was that Trump did what seemed “not technically possible” in beating veteran GOP opponents ...
  • One of those vanquished primary foes, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, is backing away from his pledge to support Trump, lamenting “We have such poor choices right now” ...
  • Trump’s lead lawyer in the Trump University lawsuit was a frequent Clinton donor and gave her campaign $2,700 two months after taking the case, Yahoo News reported ...
  • Arrests were made in videotaped attacks on Trump supporters outside a rally in San Jose. Names were not released due to legal status as minors...
  • Trump now calls global warming a hoax, but in 2009 he signed an ad warning: “If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet.”
  • In the Cal Thomas interview, Trump was asked about a comment last year that he’s never asked God for forgiveness. “I will be asking for forgiveness, but hopefully I won’t have to be asking for much forgiveness,” he replied ...
  • Trump just can't stop looking in the mirror long enough to focus on national issues, a Washington Post piece suggests.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, perhaps preaching to the converted, is due to make a speech Thursday in which she calls Trump a "loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud."
  • Ivy Leaguer Trump (U of Penn) took a beating in the season's commencement speeches (video, WP pay site)...