Vice President Joe Biden has stopped short of endorsing a presidential hopeful in 2016, but on Monday he said both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are "totally qualified" for the office — although he added that "I would like to see a woman elected."
Biden made his comments during an interview with Mic, in response to a question on whether Sanders' remarks about Clinton's qualification and judgment are sexist.
"Look, they're both totally qualified to be president," he responded. "They both get in a fight. Campaigns do this. It's like saying, you know, 'She's dead wrong' or her saying 'He's dead wrong' on an issue."
The vice president added that Sanders' remarks were "totally different" from the controversial rhetoric being uttered by GOP front-runner Donald Trump. Biden also pointed out that the senator did not say Clinton is "not qualified because she's a woman" and brushed off the notion that the former secretary of state is "held to a higher standard" because of her gender.
"This country's ready for a woman," he said. "There's no problem. We're going to be able to elect a woman in this country."
One of Biden's aides quickly interjected, saying, "That's it." But the vice president responded that he had "no problem" and signaled that he would not make an endorsement. He noted that both he and President Barack Obama have decided not to endorse a Democratic candidate in the primary.
A source from the vice president's office said the interjection was made because of the time limit, not the line of questioning.
Biden, who flirted with a last-minute entry into the presidential race last fall and admitted in January that he regretted the decision not to run, had raised eyebrows throughout Clinton's camp earlier this year when he shared his thoughts on the presidential race.
In an interview with CNN, Biden suggested that Clinton is "relatively new" to the issue of income inequality, whereas Sanders has long focused on it for years. But Biden later walked back from his comments, saying he meant Clinton was a newcomer to the inequality debate because "she's been focused in foreign policy" as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.