Bernie Sanders appeared on "The View" Friday morning, turning the set of the long-running ABC talk show into the latest battleground in the race to crown a Democratic nominee for president.
Tensions flared this week between the Sanders camp and that of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his rival for the nomination, when Sanders called Clinton "not qualified" to be president during a campaign event Wednesday.
Asked about his remarks today on "The View," Sanders struck a more conciliatory note, stating that Clinton is "obviously" qualified. Sanders had previously backtracked on his Wednesday comments in an interview with Charlie Rose aired on the "CBS Evening News" Thursday night.
Sanders also used his appearance on "The View" as a chance to lament the negative tone that has inflected the Democratic primary.
"I hope that stops. I think the people of this country understand we have some enormous crises and they want the candidates to deal with these crises and certainly they do not want to have us act like Republicans who are an embarrassment to this entire country in terms of how they are running their campaign," he said.
But Sanders defended his Wednesday comments as "a response to attacks against me" and went on to suggest that Clinton, unlike himself, "regrets a lot" of her previous policy positions and votes in the Senate.
Sanders' statements echoed longstanding criticisms of Clinton's Senate voting record, most notably her vote authorizing the Bush administration to use military force in Iraq, a measure Sanders opposed. Sanders also highlighted Clinton's Iraq War vote in his Wednesday remarks as a reason why Clinton was "not qualified" to serve as president.
"What I thought I made clear is you call into question the judgment of someone who, I believe, voted for the war in Iraq, which turns out to be one of the more disastrous foreign policy blunders in our history," Sanders said.
When "The View" host Joy Behar asked if Clinton regrets that decision, Sanders agreed: "She regrets a lot of things. In saying that I don't mean to be sarcastic. We all make mistakes."
But, he said, "I regret less than she does because I had the courage to vote the right way even when it was not necessarily popular."
The Vermont senator's appearance on "The View" came just three days after Clinton did the same, during which she spoke approvingly of the tone of the Democratic race.
"I'm very proud of the campaign Senator Sanders and I have run because we've run it on issues compared to insults, we've really tried to stay on issues, where we stand and what we would do," Clinton said Tuesday on the talk show.
In addition to his comments on Clinton's record, Sanders did not definitively rule out the possibility that his campaign would seek a contested Democratic national convention in Philadelphia this summer if neither he nor Clinton receives the 2,383 delegates needed to win the nomination outright.
"I don't want to get into all of the details," Sanders said. "We hope to have majority as we go into Philadelphia for the convention. But I think what Democrats perhaps are also seeing, if you look at the polling out there, what the polls show is us as a much stronger candidate against Trump and the other Republicans."
Despite his criticisms of Clinton, Sanders' appearance was not without its lighter moments. The hosts subjected him to questions about his private life similar to those they directed at Clinton earlier this week, prompting Sanders to reveal his favorite fictional president (Jed Bartlet, portrayed by Martin Sheen in the NBC television series The West Wing) and name Behar, who was seated to the right of him, as his celebrity crush.
The hosts also gently ribbed Sanders for referring to subway tokens while campaigning in New York earlier this week. Though the Vermont senator is a native of Brooklyn, subway tokens have not been used as a means to enter the city's mass transit system since 2003.
They presented Sanders with a New York MetroCard and, after mocking a photo of Republican presidential candidate John Kasich eating pizza with a knife and fork during a campaign stop in New York last week, offered him a pizza of his own.
"Are you all ready?" Sanders asked, holding up a slice. He ate it with his hands.