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A debate over Clinton's qualifications might be over (maybe)

The Democratic campaigns have been immersed in an argument over who's "qualified" to be president, but the fireworks may be finished.
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders listens to the first question at an African American Community Conversation town hall event in Philadelphia, Penn., April 6, 2016. (Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders listens to the first question at an African American Community Conversation town hall event in Philadelphia, Penn., April 6, 2016. 

The Democratic presidential campaigns have spent the last two days immersed in an argument over who is (or is not) "qualified" to be president. The fireworks began on Wednesday when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders very pointedly ticked off a list of reasons why front-runner Hillary Clinton is "not qualified" to sit in the Oval Office -- from her initial support of the Iraq War to her campaign contributors.

That assertion astonished and angered Clinton supporters, who point to the candidate's resume of four years as secretary of state, eight years as a senator from New York, as well as eight years as first lady.

After two days of sticking to his statement, Sanders tamped down the discussion Friday morning, saying on NBC's "Today" that "of course" she is qualified.

RELATED: Sanders: 'Of course' Clinton is qualified to be president

But getting to "of course" was a long one. He has made himself available to the press numerous times over the past 48 hours, and his evolution on his statement has been stark.

Here's a timeline:

Wednesday: The beginning. The Washington Post ran a story titled "Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president" based on an interview Clinton did on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where she said, "I think he hadn't done his homework, and he'd been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hadn't really studied or understood," which, she said, "does raise a lot of questions."

Clinton never specifically said Sanders was not qualified, but the Washington Post framed her position as that.

Wednesday evening: Sanders responded. At a rally in Philadelphia, Sanders said Clinton is the one not qualified to be president.

"I don't believe that she is qualified if she is, if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds. I don't think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC," he told the crowd.

Thursday: Clinton responded to Sanders on "Today." She wouldn't say if Sanders was qualified, but said: "I will take Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz any time."

Thursday: Sanders doubled down, sticking to his statement during a news conference.

"Because the Washington Post started a headline that said, quote, 'Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president.' That is what was thrown at me. The other thing, is I believe the Clinton campaign told CNN, and I quote, that their strategy as we go into New York and Pennsylvania, I guess, 'Disqualify him, defeat him and unify the party later.'"

Thursday: President Bill Clinton jumped to her defense.

"It's so silly, it doesn't deserve a question. About what he said? She's the most qualified person to run for president since I've been voting. More that I was in '92," he told NBC News in northwest Philadelphia.

Thursday night: Sanders on "CBS Evening News" said he'd support Clinton but wouldn't say if she's "qualified."

"And if Secretary Clinton is the nominee, I will certainly support her."

And when asked if she is qualified, he dodged. "She has years of experience. She is extremely intelligent."

Later on Thursday night: On MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Sanders' wife, Jane Sanders, said her husband would no longer say that Clinton is unqualified and acknowledged that it was probably a mistake.

"Bernie has moved on. He has said, 'OK, let's not use the word 'unqualified,' let's use the word 'contrast,'" she said.

Friday morning: On MSNBC's "Morning Joe", Sanders refused to say if Clinton is qualified. Instead he said he is going to "fight back" when he believes Clinton is attacking him, an defense he hatched on Thursday.

Moments later Friday morning: Then just moments later on NBC's "Today," Sanders said, "of course" she's qualified.

"On her worst day, she would be an infinitely better president than either of the Republican candidates," he said. 

Friday afternoon: Bill Clinton went there. He said Sanders' remarks show sexism. He was asked if Hillary would have been called unqualified if she were a man.

"Well, of course it wouldn't. And I think he walked it back today, didn't he?"

Friday mid-afternoon: After Sanders said she IS qualified, Clinton brought it up at a rally in New York.

"You may have heard Sen. Sanders say I'm unqualified to be president. Seriously, I've been called a lot of things over the years, but unqualified has not been one of them," she said. "He finally acknowledged that he doesn't really believe that. This is all pretty silly. The question in this election should be who can actually get things done."

To be continued... 

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