After unloading on Sanders, Hillary Clinton walks back not committing to him as nominee

"Nobody likes him. Nobody wants to work with him. ... It's all just baloney," the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee says.

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By Allan Smith

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night walked back scathing comments in which she would not commit to backing Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as the Democratic presidential nominee and said "nobody likes him."

"He was in Congress for years," Clinton says in the soon-to-be-released four-part Hulu documentary "Hillary," The Hollywood Reporter said in a report on Tuesday. "He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him. Nobody wants to work with him. He got nothing done. He was a career politician. It's all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it."

Asked by the publication in an interview released on Tuesday whether her assessment still stands, Clinton said, "Yes, it does."

And she would not commit to endorsing Sanders, who backed her as the Democratic nominee following the 2016 primaries, if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

"I'm not going to go there yet," she said. "We're still in a very vigorous primary season."

But Tuesday evening, Clinton amended her comments, tweeting that defeating President Donald Trump was the top priority, adding, "I will do whatever I can to support our nominee."

In The Hollywood Reporter, Clinton also criticized the "culture" around Sanders, as he has had high-profile disputes with Democratic rivals such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in recent weeks.

"I will say, however, that it's not only him, it's the culture around him," Clinton said. "It's his leadership team. It's his prominent supporters. It's his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women."

Clinton said Sanders has "not only permitted" that culture but is "very much supporting it."

Asked what he thought of Clinton's saying "nobody likes him," Sanders said, "On a good day, my wife likes me, so let's clear the air on that one." On why Clinton was still discussing the 2016 primary, Sanders said: "That's a good question. You should ask her."

The progressive group Justice Democrats said Clinton's comments were "unacceptable" and "dangerous," calling on her to support "whoever the eventual Democratic nominee" is.

"Defeating Trump is far more important than settling old scores," said Alexandra Rojas, the organization's executive director. "Secretary Clinton's statement is unacceptable, out-of-touch, and dangerous. We're calling on her to do the right thing and immediately say that she'll do everything she can to support whoever becomes the Democratic nominee. It's fine to criticize a candidate or nominee — as we surely will — but we must keep our eyes on the prize."

Clinton's comments were made public soon after Biden tweeted Monday that he accepted Sanders' apology after his campaign shared an op-ed arguing that Biden had a "big corruption problem." Biden had also accused Sanders' campaign of releasing a "doctored" video of his past comments on Social Security and asked for an apology.

"Thanks for acknowledging this, Bernie," Biden, a leading Democratic contender, tweeted. "These kinds of attacks have no place in this primary. Let's all keep our focus on making Donald Trump a one-term president."

Speaking with CBS News on Monday, Sanders said: "It is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way. And I'm sorry that that op-ed appeared."

He added that he was "really" not a fan of supporters' hitting fellow Democratic contenders, saying: "If anyone knows me, what I believe is we need a serious debate in this country on issues. We don't need to demonize people who may disagree with us."

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The op-ed, published in The Guardian, was written by Zephyr Teachout, a law professor and Sanders supporter, and was shared in a campaign newsletter by David Sirota, a speechwriter for Sanders. Teachout wrote that Biden's "big corruption problem ... makes him a weak candidate."

"It looks like 'Middle Class' Joe has perfected the art of taking big contributions, then representing his corporate donors at the cost of middle- and working-class Americans," she wrote. "Converting campaign contributions into legislative favors and policy positions isn't being 'moderate.'"

That incident comes as the Sanders campaign has increasingly targeted Biden. This month, the Sanders campaign has taken Biden to task over voting in favor of the Iraq War and for past remarks on Social Security.

And Warren accused Sanders this month of having told her in 2018 that he did not think a woman could win the 2020 presidential election. Sanders has strongly denied saying that.

Geoff Bennett contributed.