Democratic presidential candidate Bernie SandersBernie SandersProgressives raise alarm over letting lobbying groups access PPP funds Loeffler runs ad tying Doug Collins to Pelosi, Sanders, Biden Hillicon Valley: Tech companies lead way on WFH forever | States and counties plead for cybersecurity assistance | Trump weighing anti-conservative bias panel MORE said his claim that rival Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNew FBI document confirms the Trump campaign was investigated without justification California 25 and COVID-19 The Memo: Trump tweets cross into new territory MORE is “unqualified” for the job was a response to her attacks on him. 

In a CBS interview with Charlie Rose, Sanders framed the recent flare-up between the two candidates as a result of his need to defend himself.

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“All I am saying is that if people are going to attack us, if they’re going to distort our record, as has been the case time and time again, we’re going to respond,” Sanders said. “I’m responding to attacks being made against me.”

When asked if he actually thinks the former secretary of State isn’t qualified for the Oval Office, Sanders responded: “Well, does Secretary Clinton believe I am unqualified to be president?”

While not backing away from the claim, Sanders did acknowledge her experience and said Clinton is “extremely intelligent.” 

He eased up on his call for Clinton to apologize for victims of the Iraq War, which she voted for. The Vermont senator said he was countering her remarks that he should apologize to victims of the Sandy Hook shooting because of his record on gun laws. 

“Of course she doesn’t bear responsibility,” Sanders said. “Do I hold her accountable? No.”

Sanders agreed with Rose when he suggested that the candidates want to stay out of a personal back and forth to focus on the issues and said he would support Clinton if she wins the nomination.

“I think the idea of a Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE or a Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWSJ editorial board condemns Trump for 'trash' Scarborough tweets: 'Ugly even for him' Progressives raise alarm over letting lobbying groups access PPP funds Green group proposes nearly T infrastructure and clean energy stimulus plan MORE presidency would be an unmitigated disaster for this country,” he said. “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.”