Bernie Sanders’s comments praising Fidel Castro probably cost him Florida, and likely contributed to his losing ground to Joe Biden in other states as well. But when given the opportunity backtrack on his comments during a Fox News town hall on Monday night, he didn’t. In fact, he once again doubled down on his comments.
In response to a question from Bret Baier of Fox News about whether he regretted his praise of Castro’s “literacy program,” Sanders said, “No. Look, I have spent my entire life fighting for working people and fighting for democracy. If you check my record, I have condemned authoritarianism, whether it is in the Soviet Union, whether it is in Cuba, whether it is in Saudi Arabia,” he said, before specifically citing China as another example of an authoritarian government that has managed, in his view, to reduce poverty.
“Does that mean we approve of the Chinese government? No, it doesn’t,” Sanders claimed.
“Given the media that we deal with and everything else, you say something and people can beat up on you. I think you’ve got to tell the truth. So, if in China they’ve reduced extreme poverty, does that make me a communist who supports China? No, I’m just telling you a simple fact.”
Maybe Sanders figures he’s found a middle ground where it’s okay to praise dictators and authoritarian regimes, but clearly even he went too far for enough Democrat voters that he might have committed political suicide for his campaign.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis