Bernie Sanders responded to repeated attacks from Hillary Clinton that he has criticized President Obama throughout his presidency.
"The kind of criticism that we've heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans. I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama," Clinton said to Sanders.
"Madam Secretary, that is a low blow. I have worked with President Obama for the last seven years," Sanders responded. "But I think it is really unfair to suggest that I have not been supportive of the president. I have been a strong ally with him on virtually every issue. Do senators have the right to disagree with the president? Have you ever disagreed with a president? I suspect you may have."
"You ran against Barack Obama, I was not that candidate," Sanders reminded Clinton in his closing remarks at Thursday's Democratic debate moderated by PBS:
CLINTON: But I want to -- I want to follow up on something having to do with leadership, because, you know, today Senator Sanders said that President Obama failed the presidential leadership test. And this is not the first time that he has criticized President Obama. In the past he has called him weak. He has called him a disappointment.
He wrote a forward for a book that basically argued voters should have buyers' remorse when it comes to President Obama's leadership and legacy.
And I just couldn't agree -- disagree more with those kinds of comments. You know, from my perspective, maybe because I understand what President Obama inherited, not only the worst financial crisis but the antipathy of the Republicans in Congress, I don't think he gets the credit he deserves for being a president...
CLINTON: ... who got us out of that...
CLINTON: ... put us on firm ground, and has sent us into the future. And it is a -- the kind of criticism that we've heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans. I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama.
SANDERS: That is...
SANDERS: Madam Secretary, that is a low blow. I have worked with President Obama for the last seven years. When President Obama came into office we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, 800,000 jobs a month. We had a $1.4 trillion deficit. And the world's financial system is on the verge of collapse.
As a result of his efforts and the efforts of Joe Biden against unprecedented, I was there in the Senate, unprecedented Republican obstructionism, we have made enormous progress.
SANDERS: But you know what? Last I heard we lived in a democratic society. Last I heard, a United States senator had the right to disagree with the president, including a president who has done such an extraordinary job.
So I have voiced criticisms. You're right. Maybe you haven't. I have. But I think to suggest that I have voiced criticism, this blurb that you talk about, you know what the blurb said? The blurb said that the next president of the United States has got to be aggressive in bringing people into the political process.
That's what I said. That is what I believe.
SANDERS: President Obama and I are friends. As you know, he came to Vermont to campaign for me when he was a senator. I have worked for his re-election. His first election and his re-election.
But I think it is really unfair to suggest that I have not been supportive of the president. I have been a strong ally with him on virtually every issue. Do senators have the right to disagree with the president? Have you ever disagreed with a president? I suspect you may have.
CLINTON: You know, Senator, what I am concerned about, is not disagreement on issues, saying that this is what I would rather do, I don't agree with the president on that, calling the president weak, calling him a disappointment, calling several times that he should have a primary opponent when he ran for re-election in 2012, you know, I think that goes further than saying we have our disagreements.
As a senator, yes, I was a senator. I understand we can disagree on the path forward. But those kinds of personal assessments and charges are ones that I find particularly troubling.
IFILL: Senator, if you would like respond to -- you may respond to that but it is time for closing statements and you can use your time for closing statements to do that.
SANDERS: Well, one of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.