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Sanders: 'Unfair to simply say everything is bad' in Cuba under Castro

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states Oct. 29: Where Trump and Biden will be campaigning MORE (I-Vt.), the leading Democratic presidential candidate, said in an new interview that it’s “unfair” to classify everything as being “bad” in Cuba under the authoritarian rule of the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro

“We're very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but you know it's unfair to simply say everything is bad,” Sanders told “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired late Sunday. 

“You know, 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?” he added. 

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His remarks came in response to a question about comments he made in the 1980s explaining that the Cuban people did not rise up because of education and health care. 

Host Anderson Cooper followed up by noting that a lot of dissidents were imprisoned in Cuba. 

“That's right. And we condemn that,” Sanders responded. “Unlike Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign slams Facebook after thousands of ads blocked by platform's pre-election blackout Mnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' Harris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden MORE, let's be clear, you want to — I do not think that Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnOvernight Defense: Biden nets military family endorsements | Final debate features North Korea exchange | Judge refuses to dismiss sexual assault case against top general Biden: Obama wouldn't 'legitimize' North Korea with meeting How Trump and Biden contrast on foreign policy MORE is a good friend. I don't trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinGuard stabbed at French Consulate in Saudi Arabia The US must not lose the cyberwar with Russia Chechen leader: Macron's stance on Muhammad cartoons 'forcing people into terrorism' MORE, not a great friend of mine.”

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Sanders's comments on Castro drew bipartisan pushback Sunday night after the interview aired.

Florida Rep. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaTrump, Biden final arguments at opposite ends on COVID-19 Britain to infect healthy individuals with coronavirus for vaccine trials 'Nodding Woman' behind Trump at town hall is former House candidate MORE (D) said she hopes in the future Sanders will speak to some of her constituents before he “decides to sing the praises of a murderous tyrant like Fidel Castro.” 

Rep. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWisconsin GOP says hackers stole .3M Hillicon Valley: Big Tech hearing the most partisan yet | Rubio warns about foreign election interference | Trump campaign site briefly hacked Rubio warns that election interference may ramp up around Election Day MORE (R-Fla.) also said Sanders is “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,” he tweeted. 

And Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinDemocrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide DCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to 'Red to Blue' program MORE (R-N.Y.) attacked Sanders over his “democratic socialist” ideology after the interview aired. 

“This isn’t Cuba, Venezuela or the USSR. 2020 may be the year Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Socialists take over the Democratic Party, but it better not be the year they take over the United States of America,” Zeldin tweeted. 

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Sanders is leading the Democratic presidential primary field, after winning in New Hampshire and Nevada.