Biden, Sanders battle over Cuba, Obama

Biden, Sanders battle over Cuba, Obama
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDrugmaker caps insulin costs at to help diabetes patients during pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president MORE (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump shakes up WH communications team The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic The Intercept's Ryan Grim says Cuomo is winning over critics 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 ObamaMore than 400,000 people barred from becoming citizens due to coronavirus: report Poll finds public evenly split on delayed Supreme Court ObamaCare decision Samantha Power: UN covering up Russia's role in Syria bombings 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."