CNN’s Wolf Blitzer went straight for the elephant in the room to open Thursday night's Democratic presidential primary debate: the bitter accusations that have passed between the candidates' campaigns in recent days.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) came under fire earlier this month for implying that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was “not qualified” to be president of the United States. Women who support Clinton found the comment particularly insulting because of its gendered implications.
Sanders has claimed that it was merely a response to the Clinton campaign’s insinuation that he was not qualified, which was in a Washington Post article headline. Neither Clinton nor her campaign has said that explicitly.
Sanders has said Clinton is qualified because of her political experience, but that he questions her policy judgment. He reiterated that argument on Thursday.
“Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and intelligence to be president? Of course she does,” Sanders said. “But I do question her judgment.”
He went on to list her vote for the Iraq War, her receipt of campaign donations from super PACs and other decisions as evidence of this flawed judgment.
Clinton was not having it.
“I’ve been called many things in my life,” Clinton said of the “not qualified” descriptor. “That was a first.”
“The people of New York voted for me twice to be their senator from New York and President Obama trusted my judgment enough to name me secretary of state,” Clinton added.
She went on to cite Sanders’ grilling at the hands of the New York Daily Newsearlier this month as evidence that he is unprepared on policy.
“Talk about judgment, talk about the kinds of problems he has answering questions about even his core issue: breaking up the banks,” Clinton said.
Sanders finished the exchange by again enumerating the policies on which he believes Clinton has exercised flawed judgment such as the Iraq War and the influence of big money in politics.