Anchor Charlie Rose confronted Bernie Sanders in a CBS News interview on Thursday, asking why he couldn’t definitively say that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, is qualified for the presidency.
The Vermont senator was asked whether he really believes Clinton is not qualified for the presidency — a possibility he raised this week after Clinton and her team questioned whether Sanders was prepared for the White House — Sanders essentially suggested his attacks stemmed from Clinton’s comments.
He responded to Rose’s question with: “Well, does Secretary Clinton believe that I am unqualified to be president?”
Rose then asked Sanders: “Why can’t you simply say yes?”
“She has a first-rate resume in terms of a life in public service,” Rose noted. “She’s one of the most qualified people to run.”
Sanders acknowledged Clinton’s experience and intellect but said that Clinton attacked him first.
“You know, I have some experience too,” he said. “I have a pretty good record in Congress, as a senator, as a mayor. I think I am qualified to be president. And so to answer your question, you’re right. We should not get into this tit for tat.”
Sanders later said that if Clinton won the Democratic nomination for president, for which she is currently the frontrunner, he would support her.
Earlier this week, Sanders suggested Clinton wasn’t qualified for the presidency because she supported a free-trade agreement with Panama. The Sanders campaign dubbed it as “a trade pact exploited by wealthy individuals and profitable corporations to avoid paying taxes.” On Sunday, the massive Panama Papers document leak revealed how wealthy individuals used a Panamanian law firm to avoid paying taxes.
“I don’t think you are qualified if you supported the Panama free-trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed, which has made it easier for wealthy people and corporations all over the world to avoid paying taxes owed to their countries,” Sanders said in the Wednesday press release, which quoted him at a rally.
He also criticised Clinton and her super PAC for taking money from Wall Street banks and special-interest groups, for voting in favour of going to war in Iraq, and for supporting other free-trade agreements.
Sanders’ attacks came after Clinton questioned his qualifications for the Oval Office. But her campaign stressed that she never personally made that argument.
Instead, Clinton said Sanders “hadn’t done his homework” on banking policy and questioned whether he could deliver on his campaign promises to better the US economy.