Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) defended his previous praise of Cuban social programs in South Carolina on Tuesday night.

“I have opposed authoritarianism all over the world,” Sanders said at the Democratic debate. This comes just days after a 60 Minutes interview with Sanders aired. In that interview, he said “it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” about Cuba’s authoritarian nature. 

Sanders said that his comments mirror much of what Obama said about Cuba’s healthcare and education. “What Barack Obama said is they made great progress on education and health care. That was Barack Obama,” he said. 

He continued, “Occasionally, it might be a good idea to be honest about American foreign policy, and that includes the fact that America has overthrown governments all over the world in Chile, in Guatemala, in Iran, and when dictatorships, whether the Chinese or the Cubans, do something good, you acknowledge that, but you don’t have to trade love letters with them.”


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Former Vice President Joe Biden jumped in, saying that Obama,”did not in any way suggest that there was anything positive about the Cuban government.” 

“He acknowledged that they did increase life expectancy, but he went on and condemned the dictatorship, he went on and condemned the people who, in fact, had run that committee,” he said. “The fact of the matter is he, in fact, does not, did not, has never embraced an authoritarian regime and does not now.”

Sanders began to say, “Authoritarianism of any stripe is bad…” when Biden interjected, “Period.”

Sanders added, “…but that is different than saying governments occasionally do things that are good,” Sanders said. 

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