Former Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on Thursday predicted Joe Biden would win the state’s Democratic primary in a landslide following Senator Bernie Sanders’s (I., Vt.) comments defending Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
“My guess is, it will likely be a Biden runaway,” Gillum said in an interview with Democratic strategist David Axelrod. “They already had great relations in the state, but [Sanders’s] comments will live [on] for a lot of people.”
Gillum went on to cite state senator Annette Taddeo’s criticism of Sanders’s remarks as evidence of how deeply offended Florida voters were by Sanders’s praise of Castro’s literacy program.
“Saying a murderous dictator wasn’t so bad because of a literacy program is like saying ‘there were very fine people, on both sides,'” Taddeo wrote on Twitter in February, referencing President Trump’s comments on the 2017 white supremacist rally and counter protest in Charlottesville, Va.
Sanders argued in a recent interview that it is important to temper criticism of Castro’s authoritarianism by acknowledging the success of his social programs.
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad. You know?” Sanders said in a February interview on 60 Minutes. “When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”
Florida Democrats blasted Sanders over his praise of Castro. The state’s Latino population is made up largely of refugees from Cuba.
Recent polling shows Sanders far behind Biden in the run up to Florida’s March 17 primary.