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- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders defended his past comments on communist leader Fidel Castro that focused on social programs installed by the despot.
- Speaking in a CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview that aired Sunday, Sanders said that "it's unfair to simply say everything is bad" with the way Castro ruled the country, adding that he had "transformed the society."
- The Democratic presidential hopeful condemned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin, two authoritarian leaders who have been friendly with President Donald Trump, but that didn't stop response surfacing online to slam Sanders' comments.
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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders sparked criticism when he defended his past comments on communist leader Fidel Castro, saying that the Cuban revolution wasn't all bad.
Speaking in a CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview that aired Sunday, the 2020 Democratic contender told host Anderson Cooper that "it's unfair to simply say everything is bad" with the way Castro ruled the country.
"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?"
When Cooper referenced the high number of dissidents who were imprisoned under Castro, Sanders responded: "That's right, and we condemn that."
The lawmaker then condemned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin, two authoritarian leaders with whom President Donald Trump has raised eyebrows by displaying friendly relationships.
"Unlike Donald Trump, let's be clear, I do not think that Kim Jong Un is a good friend," Sanders said. "I don't trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir Putin, not a great friend of mine."
—60 Minutes (@60Minutes) February 24, 2020
However, Sanders' distinctions among the dictators didn't shield him from criticism posted online by viewers and fellow lawmakers.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio wrote on Twitter to reject Sanders' remarks, writing that Sander was "wrong about why people didn't overthrow Castro."
"It's not because 'he educated their kids, gave them health care' it's because his opponents were jailed, murdered or exiled," Rubio said in the tweet.
Rubio's fellow Florida lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala, wrote on Twitter that she hoped Sanders would "take time to speak to some of my constituents before he decides to sing the praises of a murderous tyrant like Fidel Castro."
The interview comes just a day after Sanders appeared to cement his place as a front-runner in the Democratic field with a standout performance in the Nevada caucus.
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