Reprinted from WSWS
After a two-day battering by Democratic Party leaders and media interrogators, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dropped his claim that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was "not qualified" to be president because of her corrupt relationship with Wall Street and her past support for the Iraq war.
In a series of media interviews, Sanders reiterated his longstanding position that he would support Clinton if she won the Democratic presidential nomination.
Sanders began the retreat Thursday evening in an interview with Charlie Rose of CBS News. He defended his comments about Clinton as a necessary response to Clinton's earlier attack on him, summed up in a Washington Post headline that read, "Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president."
Rose pressed him on the subject, clearly seeking to extract from Sanders a direct statement that Clinton was qualified to be president. The transcript of the exchange goes as follows:
Rose: "Do you believe Secretary Clinton is unqualified to be president?"
Sanders: "Well, does Secretary Clinton believe that I am unqualified to be president?"
Rose: "But why can't you simply say yes? She has a first-rate resume in terms of a life in public service. She's one of the most qualified people to run."
Sanders: "She has years of experience. She is extremely intelligent. You know, I have some experience too. 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."
Rose then pointed to Sanders' criticism of Clinton for her 2002 vote to authorize the war in Iraq and asked, "is that going too far to say she bears responsibility for Iraqi war deaths?"
Sanders replied, "Of course she doesn't bear responsibility. She voted for the war in Iraq. That was a very bad vote, in my view. Do I hold her accountable? No."
Rose prodded him again, saying, "I just want to come back to the Iraqi thing one second, and one more question. You have said that she voted for the Iraqi war. Other people did as well. Many other people. Do you hold all of them responsible for the deaths of Americans?" Sanders replied, "No."
Then came the following exchange:
Rose: "Come November 2016, if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, you will be supporting her?"
Sanders: "Sure, I will. Look, as I said a million times, 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."
Sanders repeated these assurances in an appearance Friday morning at a Manhattan town hall broadcast on the "Today Show" on NBC. He downplayed the mutual accusations of being "unqualified" and said he preferred to discuss what he called "real issues."