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Joe Biden told ABC News, "I feel confident that Hillary will be the nominee and I feel confident she'll be the next president"

The vice president becomes the highest ranking administration official to predict Clinton's win

Washington CNN —  

Vice President Joe Biden became the highest-ranking administration official Tuesday to publicly predict Hillary Clinton’s ascension to her party’s presidential nomination, telling an interviewer he was also sure she’d be elected president.

“I feel confident that Hillary will be the nominee and I feel confident she’ll be the next president,” Biden told ABC News.

Until now, both Biden and President Barack Obama have withheld any predictions in the Democratic contest, choosing instead to remain neutral as the primary battle between Clinton and her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, waged on.

The contest lasted longer than many Democrats, including in the White House, expected. But in the interest of preserving party unity, Obama and Biden remain largely on the sidelines.

Even after he decided to forgo a bid himself for the top job, Biden stopped short of endorsing any candidate. While Biden didn’t explicitly back Clinton in the short clip of ABC’s interview, his remarks reflect an acknowledgment that Sanders has few routes left to securing the nomination.

Obama himself hinted at that reality last week.

“I think everybody knows what that math is,” he told reporters at the White House. “I think Sen. Sanders has done an extraordinary job raising a whole range of issues that are important to Democratic voters as well as the American people generally. And I know that at some point, there’s going to be a conversation between Secretary Clinton and Bernie Sanders about how we move towards the convention.”

But he refused to spell out explicitly that Clinton was the favorite to become the Democratic nominee.

“I’m going to let the voters cast their ballots, and not, you know, not try to meddle in the few primaries that are remaining,” he said. “Let the process play itself out. We’ll know soon enough. It’s not going to be that much longer.”