Bill Clinton suggests double standard in 'qualifications' debate

Story highlights

  • "Yes, I think there are some different standards. Some of them are subconscious," Bill Clinton said
  • Sanders earlier this week caused a firestorm when he said Clinton isn't "qualified" to be commander in chief

Washington (CNN)Former President Bill Clinton on Friday suggested there were "different standards" regarding gender in the ongoing debate between his wife, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders over who is more qualified to be president.

Sanders earlier this week caused a firestorm when he said Clinton isn't "qualified" to be commander in chief, citing her support from Wall Street donors and her 2002 vote as a New York senator for the Iraq war.
    Asked by a reporter in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Friday if "gender was a factor" in Sanders' comments, Bill Clinton began by praising his wife, saying she's the best candidate for president.
    "I think it's obvious by a country mile and that's all that matters to me," Clinton said.
    But, he continued: "Yes, I think there are some different standards. Some of them are subconscious."
    Later Friday, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN's Erin Burnett on "OutFront" that Sanders' remarks "obviously was not a gender-related thing."
    Asked if Sanders regretted the choice of words, Weaver said the campaign had meant "qualified in the sense of 'disqualified' as opposed to 'unqualified.'"
    "I think those are different meanings," Weaver continued. "Obviously, the secretary is resume-qualified. She has a distinguished resume, there's no doubt about that, no one can take that away from her."
    Weaver added, "What was the subconscious thought when the Clinton campaign suggested in 2008 suggested that Barack Obama was not qualified ... Was there something subconscious involved in that? Of course, that's a ridiculous statement on the part of the president."
    In Buffalo, New York, Hillary Clinton would not directly comment on whether she agrees with her husband on whether gender played a role in Sanders' comments.
    "You'd have to ask him," Clinton said about whether Sanders would have said the same about a male candidate.
    "As I said in the rally, I think this is all silly. He made his comments and there was no basis for this. It was completely a misrepresentation and he seemed to take them back today," Clinton said. "I don't know why he made them in the first place."
    When asked whether Sanders is qualified to be president, Hillary Clinton -- for the first time -- emphatically said "yes."
    "As I said," Clinton added, "I would take him over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz any day."