Wednesday night was almost certainly the lowest point of the Democratic presidential race to date. Bernie Sanders, responding to an attack Hillary Clinton didn’t actually make, told a Philadelphia audience the former Secretary of State isn’t “qualified” to be president.
Offered an opportunity to walk that back yesterday, the Vermont senator demurred, sticking to the personal attack. In fact, one of Sanders’ top campaign aides appeared on MSNBC and, to everyone’s surprise, insisted that Clinton really did call Sanders unqualified first, even though that didn’t happen in reality.
This entire offensive carried some risks for Team Sanders, with no obvious upside. In fact, of all the potential lines of attack for the senator to launch against Clinton, questioning whether or not she’s “qualified” seems to do Sanders’ campaign the least good.
This morning, on NBC’s “Today,” Savannah Guthrie gave the senator another chance to walk this back. This time, he took advantage of the opportunity.
Guthrie asked Sanders if he overreacted to what Clinton said.“Here’s the truth: I’ve known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I respect Hillary Clinton. We were colleagues in the Senate,” he responded. “And on her worst day, she would be an infinitely better president than either of the Republican candidates.”“She’s qualified?” Guthrie asked.“Of course,” Sanders replied.
The video of the segment is online here.
In a CBS interview, aired last night, Sanders added, “I think the idea of a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz presidency would be an unmitigated disaster for this country. I will do everything in my power and work as hard as I can to make sure that that does not happen. And if Secretary Clinton is the nominee, I will certainly support her.”
For her part, Clinton appeared yesterday on NBC’s “Today,” and said that while Sanders questioning her qualifications for the presidency was “silly,” she would nevertheless “take Bernie Sanders over Donald trump and Ted Cruz anytime.”
So, if Wednesday night was an off-putting low point in the Democratic race, perhaps the candidates are prepared to start moving back in a more constructive direction?