White House: Obama will not endorse a Democratic candidate during the primary

Obama to Give Final State of the Union Address

US President Barack Obama will not publicly endorse a candidate before the 2016 Democratic primary has concluded, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said on Sunday.

"We'll do exactly what has been done in the past," McDonough said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

When asked specifically by host Chuck Todd if the president would endorse a candidate, McDonough shook his head.

"No, no," he said.

McDonough acknowledged that though the president had privately met several times with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who served as Secretary of State during Obama's first term, he had not met with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) since the senator jumped in the race eight months ago.

McDonough did say that Obama will be "out there" campaigning after the primary to help support the Democratic candidate.

The president's decision to stay above the fray in the primary has plenty of precedent.

In 2008, then-President George W. Bush did not endorse the Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) until the senator won several key primaries, making it apparent that he would likely be the nominee.

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White House: Obama will not endorse a Democratic candidate during the primary
U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. Obama is trying to put Republicans on defense in the U.S. debate over gun rights with a call to ban people on the governments no-fly list from buying firearms. The trouble is his proposal may be unconstitutional. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US President Barack Obama gestures during a press conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, DC on December 18, 2015. Obama addressed the press before flying to San Bernardino to meet families of the victims of the December 2 attack, before continuing to Hawaii for a two-week family vacation. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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