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U.S. President Barack Obama answers a question at town hall at George Mason University on January 7, 2016 in Fairfax, Virginia.
U.S. President Barack Obama answers a question at town hall at George Mason University on January 7, 2016 in Fairfax, Virginia.  Pool—Getty Images

White House Says Gun Op-Ed Not Meant as 2016 Endorsement

Jan 08, 2016

President Obama's op-ed on gun control wasn't intended to take a stand in the Democratic presidential primary, a White House spokesman said Friday.

In an op-ed published Thursday in the New York Times, Obama wrote that he would not "campaign for, vote for or support" any candidate who didn't support "common sense" gun control efforts, including holding gun manufacturers more responsible.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic nomination, supported a 2005 law that gives gun manufacturers legal immunity if their weapons are used to commit crimes, making him the most vulnerable Democrat on the issue.

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But White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that while he's not “intimately familiar” with Sanders' record, the President was not intending to show a preference for any particular candidate in the op-ed.

“The President was quite intentional about raising this issue as it relates to gun manufacturers, but that was not any sort of secret or subtle signal to demonstrate a preference in the presidential primary,” Earnest said.

Read More: Democrats Pile on Bernie Sanders Over Gun Control at Debate

Sanders has hinted that he is willing to reconsider holding manufacturers accountable for crimes committed with their guns, a change Earnest said Friday the White House would welcome.

“That’s exactly the goal here,” Earnest said. “We want people to change their minds.”

A Sanders campaign official said Friday there is "zero daylight between the president and Senator Bernie Sanders" on gun control.

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