During Monday night’s CNN town hall, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders doubled down on his socialist agenda, standing by past remarks made he made about communist leader Fidel Castro.
In an interview over the weekend with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sanders heaped praise for left-wing authorities. When asked about his past backing of Castro’s communist government in Cuba, Sanders was open about his affection for the murderous leader.
“When Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program,” he told journalist Cooper during the interview. “Is that a bad thing, even though Fidel Castro did it?”
The controversial comments struck a cord with many, with the backlash culminating during last night’s event.
Appearing at a South Carolina town hall event hosted by CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Sanders faced pointed question from attendees concerned with his socialist rhetoric over the years. But the toughest question may have come from Cuomo.
“I will take one more step down the road from the stigma from some of your fellow Democrats,” Cuomo said during the event in Charleston. “You said on 60 Minutes this weekend, ‘It is unfair to say that everything is bad with the way that Fidel Castro ruled in Cuba.’
“Now, Democratic members of Congress who represent Cuban Americans in Florida, obviously you got to win there, they’re attacking your comment as absolutely unacceptable, singing the praises of a murderous tyrant,” Cuomo continued. “Response?”
Instead of condemning the communist regime, Sanders dove in headfirst.
“The response was, when Fidel Castro first came to power … he initiated a major literacy program,” Sanders claimed. “There was a lot of folks in Cuba at that point who were illiterate. He formed a literacy brigade, they went out and helped people learn to read and write. You know what? I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing.”
Sanders then dug himself a deeper hole, praising communist China — a government that has murdered 45 million of its own people to implement communism.
“China is an authoritarian country becoming more and more authoritarian. But can anyone deny, I mean the facts are clear, that they have taken more people out of extreme poverty than any country in history,” Sanders falsely claimed. “Do I get criticized because I say that? It’s the truth. So that is the fact, end of discussion.”
It is true that China has elevated 800 million people out of poverty since the 1980’s, but much of their economic success is due to the government abandoning socialist programs in favor of free enterprise and capital investment — something Sanders decided to omit.
The Democratic front-runner now finds himself out of the frying pan and into the fire, with Florida leaders criticizing Sanders for failing to condemn authoritative dictators.
Senator Rick Scott did not mince words in his rebuke of Sanders, saying the self-professed ‘democratic socialist’ was focused on tearing down America.
Stunning. @BernieSanders entire campaign is focused on how terrible America is. But in one answer last night, he praised both Cuba & China.
If Dems care about freedom & human rights, they need to stand up and say RIGHT NOW that they won’t support this apologist for tyrants. https://t.co/nSYpGeCFwS
— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) February 25, 2020
Governor Ron DeSantis also blasted Sanders for his remarks at an appearance Monday morning at Florida A&M University.
“Any attempts to whitewash the brutality of the Castro dictatorship is totally unacceptable,” DeSantis said. “It flies directly in the face of the values of the people throughout this state. And this is a senator who has spoken positively throughout his whole life about the dictatorship there.”
Other Florida Republicans have also denounced Sanders’ pro-communist views, challenging Democrats in the Sunshine State to do the same.
Interesting that we have not seen statements from @CarlosGSmith and @AnnaForFlorida condemning @BernieSanders’s statements about Fidel Castro. They were happy to take endorsements but now crickets 🤔
— Evan Power (@EvanPower) February 25, 2020
Why are the @FlaDems acting like @BernieSanders pro-communist views are new?
He’s held and displayed them for DECADES.
There should no surprise that those views are now the DOCTRINE of the @TheDemocrats party.
— Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) February 24, 2020
.@BernieSanders, “impressed?” Before Fidel Castro took over cubans could read whatever they wanted without fear of imprisonment or being murdered by a firing squad. It’s absolutely disgusting that Bernie is glamorizing a murderous dictator!
— Byron Donalds (@ByronDonalds) February 24, 2020