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Buttigieg: 'I have enormous respect' for Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJuan Williams: Clyburn is my choice as politician of the year 'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' MORE said on Saturday that he has "enormous respect" for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump has discussed possible pardons for three eldest children, Kushner: report McCaskill: 'Hypocrisy' for GOP to target Biden nominee's tweets after Trump Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate 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 TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump 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) MuellerBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting 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."