So far this year's Democratic primary contest has been relatively high-minded, especially compared to the Republican side, but over the past two days things have gotten nasty. The conflict began when Hillary Clinton implied Sanders wasn't a real Democrat and hadn't "done his homework" on his pet issue: breaking up big banks. Based on headlines, Sanders took Clinton's remarks to mean she'd said he wasn't qualified to be president, and he shot back that maybe she wasn't qualified, either.
Having successfully driven Sanders to a boiling point, Clinton then backed off, saying she'd take Sanders "over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz anytime." But the question remained: If Sanders thought Clinton so "unqualified," would he endorse her if she won the nomination in July?
The answer, it seems, is yes. During an interview with CBS on Thursday evening, Sanders assured anchor Charlie Rose that he "thinks the idea of a Donald Trump or a Ted Cruz presidency would be an unmitigated disaster for this country." He went on, "I will do everything in my power and work as hard as I can to make sure that that does not happen. And if Secretary Clinton is the nominee, I will certainly support her."
RELATED: Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail:
Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail
Sanders makes nice, says he'll 'certainly support' Clinton if she's the Democratic nominee
PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 15: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks to a crowd gathered at the Phoenix Convention Center during a campaign rally on March 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary elections in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, while Missouri and Illinois remain tight races. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 26: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to the media after holding a campaign event with United Steelworkers Local 310L, on January 26, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Sanders continues his quest to become the Democratic presidential nominee.. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - US Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign event at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, January 24, 2016, ahead of the Iowa Caucus. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, participates in the Democratic presidential candidate debate in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. Hours before Sunday's Democratic debate, the two top Democratic contenders held a warm-up bout of sorts in multiple separate appearances on political talk shows, at a time when the polling gap between the pair has narrowed in early-voting states. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 05: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) shakes hands with supporters after outlining his plan to reform the U.S. financial sector on January 5, 2016 in New York City. Sanders is demanding greater financial oversight and greater government action for banks and individuals that break financial laws. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
LEBANON, NH - NOVEMBER 11: Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) marches in the Veterans Day Parade November 11, 2015 in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Sanders goes into the Democrats second debate this weekend still running strong in the polls.(Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute conference in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015. While next Tuesday's first Democratic presidential debate will probably lack the name-calling and sharp jabs of the Republican face-offs, there's still potential for strong disagreements between the party's leading contenders. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks about the Workplace Democracy Act on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on October 6, 2015. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Senator from Vermont and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses striking low-wage contract workers from the US Capitol and religious leaders at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington, DC, on September 22, 2015 for an interfaith service ahead of the arrival of Pope Francis for a six-day visit to the US. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - SEPTEMBER 19: Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) talks on stage during the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Convention on September 19, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Five Democratic presidential candidates are all expected to address the crowd inside the Verizon Wireless Arena. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
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In other words, Sanders is still dedicated to maintaining party unity in the face of Republican challengers. However, he refused to walk back on his comments. When Rose asked Sanders if he believes Clinton is unqualified to be president, Sanders responded with a coy, "Well, does Secretary Clinton believe that I am unqualified to be president?" He conceded that she "has years of experience and "is extremely intelligent," but said, "we should not get into this tit for tat. We should be debating the issues facing the American people."
But a minute later, Sanders appeared to contradict himself:
Rose:People are saying the tenor of this campaign has changed, and it's sounding more and more like the Republican campaign.
Sanders: Let's not go that far.
Rose: But take a listen to this, this is what you've said. You said that, "Clinton should apologize for Iraq war deaths."
Sanders: This is after I was asked to apologize for the tragedy in Sandy Hook. You know, put these things into context.
Rose: Tit for tat.
Sanders: It is tit for tat. But I'm responding to attacks that are being made against me.
This sentiment echoes what Sanders said in Philadelphia earlier today. And although Sanders maintains the tone of the Democratic race is far from that of the Republican campaign, his response still rings of, "she started it."