Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright apologized Friday for implying criticism of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) young, female supporters, acknowledging her comments came in "the wrong context and the wrong time."
While campaigning for Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton last week, Albright uttered a phrase she has used many times: "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other."
But while the line is one of Albright's most famous, it was interpreted as a rebuke of women who have supported Sanders over Clinton. (In New Hampshire, Sanders bested Clinton 55 to 44 among female voters.)
In a New York Times op-ed titled "My Undiplomatic Moment," Albright stood by the sentiment of her signature catchphrase, but acknowledged that her timing was not ideal.
"I have spent much of my career as a diplomat. It is an occupation in which words and context matter a great deal," she wrote. "So one might assume I know better than to tell a large number of women to go to hell."
"I absolutely believe what I said, that women should help one another, but this was the wrong context and the wrong time to use that line," Albright continued. "I did not mean to argue that women should support a particular candidate based solely on gender. But I understand that I came across as condemning those who disagree with my political preferences. If heaven were open only to those who agreed on politics, I imagine it would be largely unoccupied."
Clinton was asked about Albright's comment during Thursday's Democratic debate, hosted by PBS NewsHour.
"Look, I think that she's been saying that for as long as I've known her, which is about 25 years," she said. "But it doesn't change my view that we need to empower everyone, women and men, to make the best decisions in their minds that they can make. That's what I've always stood for."
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem also drew criticism recently for calling out women who support Sanders over Clinton. During an appearance on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," Steinem implied that women are only supporting Sanders to meet boys. Steinem later apologized for the remarks.