Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) on Monday doubled down on his praise of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and added praise for aspects of the Chinese authoritarian regime.
“Truth is truth. All right?” Sanders said at a CNN town hall event when challenged on his previous praise for Castro’s regime. “If you want to disagree with me, if somebody wants to say that—and by the way, all of the Congress people you mentioned just so happen to be supporting other candidates…but you know, the truth is the truth. And that is what happened on the first years of the Castro regime.”
Sanders then expanded his comments on Cuba to include praise of China.
“China is an authoritarian country, becoming more and more authoritarian,” Sanders said. “But can anyone deny, the facts are clear, that they have taken more people out of extreme poverty than any country in history?”
In an interview on CBS’s 60 Minutes aired Sunday, Sanders highlighted Cuba’s “literacy program” as an example of good done by Fidel Castro.
“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. “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?”
The Vermont senator’s comments have drawn bipartisan criticism, particularly among Florida lawmakers. Florida has one of the largest populations of Cuban immigrants in the U.S., many of whom fled the oppressive Castro regime.
“Donald Trump wins Florida if Bernie is our nominee,” warned State Representative Javier Fernandez, a Democrat whose District 114 encompasses part of Miami. “If Bernie Sanders is atop the ticket, it’s going to make it tougher for all of us to win in Florida.”