Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders on Monday defended comments he made to CBS’s “60 Minutes” praising Fidel Castro for literacy programs he introduced in Cuba.
“There were a lot of folks in Cuba at that point who were illiterate. He formed the literacy brigade,” Sanders said at a CNN town hall in Charleston, South Carolina. Castro, he added, “went out and they helped people learn to read and write. You know what, I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing.”
Sanders was criticized by rival presidential candidates Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg, who both suggested he was showing sympathy for a tyrant.
(Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)
At the town hall, Sanders listed his record of opposing authoritarian regimes, including Cuba’s. “I have been extremely consistent and critical of all authoritarian regimes all over the world — including Cuba, including Nicaragua, including Saudi Arabia, including China, including Russia. I happen to believe in democracy, not authoritarianism.”
He also sought to put an end to questions about how he planned to pay for his expansive policy proposals by handing out a paper listing funding sources and costs of all of his major plans.
Earlier: Sanders’ Early Wins Make Him the One to Beat for the Nomination
The Vermont senator was asked by a voter what made his promises different from Donald Trump’s in 2016 when he said he would build a wall at the Mexican border without specifying legitimate financing sources. Sanders turned to the CNN host, Chris Cuomo, and said he anticipated the question and handed him the documents.
The list was also published on his website and details his plans for his major proposals, including Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and eliminating student loan debt. Sanders struggled in the interview with “60 Minutes,” which was broadcast on Sunday, to say precisely how he would fund Medicare for All.
“I can’t rattle off to you every nickel and every dime,” Sanders said on the program after repeated questions about how he planned to pay for his proposals. “But we have accounted for — you — you talked about Medicare for All. We have options out there that will pay for it.”
Asked at the town hall who he would choose as his running mate, the 78-year-old candidate said that it would be “presumptuous” to make a pick so early in the election season. He did provide one detail on that selection:
“I will tell you one thing though — it is that that person will not be an old white guy. That I can say.”
Sanders also denied a report in the Atlantic, amplified in an attack ad by the Biden campaign, that he had considered mounting a primary challenge to President Barack Obama when he was running for re-election in 2012.
The reports are “absolutely untrue,” he said, adding that “I did not give any consideration to running for president of the United States until 2015.”
Sanders said the Biden ad was typical of the “silly season” near the end of an election when “people say things they should not say.”
He was also asked about a Washington Post report that intelligence officials had briefed him about efforts by Russia to benefit his campaign. Sanders said it wasn’t clear how the Russians were attempting to influence the election, though he said they could be spreading disinformation and fueling divisive rhetoric online as they did in 2016.
An example of Russian interference, Sanders said, may have been the attacks last week on leaders of the Culinary Workers Union in Nevada that were attributed to some his followers. Sanders said it was inconceivable that any of his supporters would attack union leaders, who had not endorsed him.
“Does anybody really think — anyone really think who’s a supporter of mine, that they would make ugly attacks against really excellent trade union leaders? It just seemed to me kind of fishy. That was my suspicion,” Sanders said. When pushed to clarify if it was the Russians he said it “might be. I didn’t say it was definitively.”
Sanders repudiated any backer who engaged in abusive behavior. He said that “99.9% of our supporters are fantastic people,” but, he added, “I’m not going to say we don’t have some jerks out there.”
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm
QUICKTAKE ON SOCIAL:
Follow QuickTake on Twitter: twitter.com/quicktake
Like QuickTake on Facebook: facebook.com/quicktake
Follow QuickTake on Instagram: instagram.com/quicktake
Subscribe to our newsletter: https://bit.ly/2FJ0oQZ
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
QuickTake by Bloomberg is a global news network delivering up-to-the-minute analysis on the biggest news, trends and ideas for a new generation of leaders.
In This Story: 2012
2012 is a film directed by Roland Emmerich and released in 2009. The film depicts a natural disaster in which the Earth’s core heats up, causes unprecedented solar storms and ultimately wipes out most of the world’s population in a major flood.
1 Recent Items: 2012
In This Story: Barack Obama
Barack Obama is an American politician and attorney who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, Obama was the first African-American president of the United States. He previously served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008 and an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004.
Obama left office in January 2017 and continues to reside in Washington, D.C.
3 Recent Items: Barack Obama
In This Story: Bernie Sanders
Bernard Sanders is an American politician who has served as the junior United States Senator from Vermont since 2007 and as U.S. Representative for the state’s at-large congressional district from 1991 to 2007. He is the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history, although he has a close relationship with the Democratic Party, having caucused with House and Senate Democrats for most of his congressional career.
Sanders unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party nomination for president of the United States in 2016 and 2020, finishing in second place in both campaigns.
3 Recent Items: Bernie Sanders
In This Story: China
7 Recent Items: China
In This Story: Cuba
Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba. The country was a point of contention during the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and a nuclear war nearly broke out during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
Culturally, Cuba is considered part of Latin America.
2 Recent Items: Cuba
In This Story: Joe Biden
Joe Biden is an American politician serving as the 46th and current president of the United States. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the 47th vice president from 2009 to 2017 under Barack Obama and represented Delaware in the United States Senate from 1973 to 2009.
He is married to Dr Jill Biden.