Buttigieg: 'I have enormous respect' for Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegCalifornia poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth Buttigieg unveils disaster response plan focused on communities Poll: Biden holds five-point lead over Warren among New York Democrats MORE said on Saturday that he has "enormous respect" for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump heads to California Hillary Clinton: Voter suppression has led to 'crisis in democracy' in the US MORE after his January criticism of her 2016 presidential campaign resurfaced this weekend, according to WSBT.

In a Jan. 14 interview with The Washington Post Magazine, Buttigieg said, "Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE got elected because, in his twisted way, he pointed out the huge troubles in our economy and our democracy."

"At least he didn’t go around saying that America was already great, like Hillary did," he added.

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Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill fired back on Saturday, tweeting that Clinton "ran on a belief in this country & the most progressive platform in modern political history," while Trump "ran on pessimism, racism, false promises, & vitriol."

Asked about his earlier remarks, Buttigieg told Indiana CNN affiliate WSBT that he had "enormous respect" for Clinton and said she was "ill-served by a strategy and media environment" in 2016.

"Just to make this clear, I think America would be a much better place if she were president," he said. "That's why I voted for her, and that's why I campaigned for her, and I have enormous respect for Secretary Clinton."

Buttigieg expanded on his January comments to say Midwesterners perceived Clinton’s 2016 messaging as "basically saying that everything was just fine and we should just believe in the system, and that was unconvincing."

Many people who voted for Trump, he added, "knew that the president was not a great character" but "voted for him just to kind of burn the house down." Buttigieg made similar similar comments after the completion of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal MORE’s investigation, saying at a Greenville, S.C., event that Trump would not be undone by "some piece of evidence to come along that finally proves once and for all that he's not a good guy."