Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright apologized on Friday for comments that sparked controversy last week while she campaigned for Hillary Clinton, saying it was the wrong time to use her trademark phrase that, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”
“I absolutely believe what I said, that women should help one another, but this was the wrong context and the wrong time to use that line,” Albright said in a column published Friday in the New York Times. “I did not mean to argue that women should support a particular candidate based solely on gender. But I understand that I came across as condemning those who disagree with my political preferences. If heaven were open only to those who agreed on politics, I imagine it would be largely unoccupied.”
Albright made the remark while campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Clinton, who trails rival Bernie Sanders among young female voters.
In the column, Albright said she still believes women “have an obligation to help one another.”
“While young women may not want to hear anything more from this aging feminist, I feel it is important to speak to women coming of age at a time when a viable female presidential candidate, once inconceivable, is a reality,” she wrote.
Albright defended her original remarks in an interview with TIME earlier this week, saying people need to understand who has been fighting for issues on their behalf and that women are generally judgmental of each other. She said the remarks were taken out of context.
In Thursday’s Democratic debate, Clinton was asked if she agreed with what Albright said.
“She’s been saying that for as long as I’ve known her, which is about 25 years,” Clinton said. “But it doesn’t change my view that we need to empower everyone, women and men, to make the best decisions in their minds that they can make. That’s what I’ve always stood for.”