Biden, Sanders battle over Cuba, Obama

Biden, Sanders battle over Cuba, Obama
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Sunrise Movement endorses Nina Turner in special election for Ohio House seat The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Israel-Hamas carnage worsens; Dems face SALT dilemma MORE (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden's quiet diplomacy under pressure as Israel-Hamas fighting intensifies Overnight Defense: Administration approves 5M arms sale to Israel | Biden backs ceasefire in call with Netanyahu | Military sexual assault reform push reaches turning point CDC mask update sparks confusion, opposition MORE traded barbs Tuesday night over Sanders's positive remarks about communist Cuba and whether former President Obama ever made similar comments.

"What I said is what Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Kid reporter who interviewed Obama dies at 23 Obama shares video of him visiting Maryland vaccination site GOP votes to replace Cheney with Stefanik after backing from Trump MORE said, in terms of Cuba, that Cuba made progress on education," Sanders said at South Carolina's Democratic debate, doubling down on comments from a recent "60 Minutes" interview that drew criticism from fellow White House hopefuls.

Biden quickly interjected, saying Obama never spoke highly of Cuba's regime. The former vice president cited a town hall-style meeting Obama held in Argentina in 2016.

"He did not in any way suggest that there was anything positive about the Cuban government — acknowledge that they did increase life expectancy, but he went on to condemn the dictatorship," said Biden.

During the town hall meeting, Obama relayed his conversation with Raúl Castro, Cuba's president at the time: "I said, look, you've made great progress in educating young people. Every child in Cuba gets a basic education; that's a huge improvement from where it was."

"Medical care — the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States, despite it being a very poor country, because they have access to health care. That's a huge achievement. They should be congratulated. But you drive around Havana and you say this economy is not working," Obama added.

Biden on Tuesday accused Sanders of not condemning the authoritarianism of Cuba's leaders and their regional ally, Nicaragua.

"Categorically untrue," Sanders responded. "Cuba, Nicaragua, authoritarianism of any stripe is bad. That is different than saying that governments occasionally do things that are good."