Sanders walks back criticism of Clinton qualifications

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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday walked back his criticism that his primary opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is not “qualified” to be president.

Sanders was asked at a town hall event hosted by the NBC’s “Today” show about his Clinton comments.

“I respect Hillary Clinton. We were colleagues in the Senate and on her worst day, she would be an infinitely better president than either of the Republican candidates," Sanders said.

Sanders then said “of course” when asked if Clinton is qualified.

He elaborated on ABC’s “The View,” saying Clinton “obviously” has the experience to be president – he was just challenging her judgment, as somebody who voted for the war in Iraq, among other decisions.

The clarifications are a far cry from the Democratic presidential candidate's pointed comments earlier this week, on the heels of his Wisconsin primary victory.

Sanders had made the claim to a crowd in Philadelphia, saying "I don't believe that she is qualified if she is, through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special-interest funds."

Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said Sanders was responding to a Washington Post article headlined "Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president."

The accusation prompted a heated back-and-forth between the campaigns, who are vying now for support ahead of the April 19 New York state primary.

"Well, it's kind of a silly thing to say," Clinton responded with a laugh while speaking to reporters outside Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. "But I'm going to trust the voters of New York who know me and have voted for me three times -- twice for Senate and once in the presidential primary."

On Friday, she said in Buffalo, N.Y., that she’s been called a lot of things but unqualified is not one of them.

She said Sanders now acknowledges he does not really believe his original accusation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.