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Bass: 'Lesson learned' on 2016 Castro comments

Bass: 'Lesson learned' on 2016 Castro comments
© Bonnie Cash

Rep. Karen BassKaren Ruth BassJoyce Beatty elected next chair of Congressional Black Caucus Feinstein pushes for California secretary of state to replace Harris in Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE (D-Calif.), a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said on Sunday that she had learned a lesson about her 2016 comments on the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, adding that she “wouldn’t do that again.”

Bass addressed reports about her travels and comments on Cuba on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” including when she called Castro “Comandante en Jefe” in a statement after his death in 2016. 

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The California lawmaker acknowledged that people in Florida viewed her description as “endearing to him.”

“I didn’t see it that way,” she told moderator Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddChicago mayor says COVID-19 vaccine faces 'reluctance' among African American communities Mullen: 'National security issues do not wait' for presidential transitions Republican Arkansas governor: Trump beginning transition process more 'significant' than a concession MORE. “I was expressing condolences to the Cuban people to the people in Cuba, not Cubans around the world.”

“I don’t think that’s a toxic expression in California, but let me just say Chuck, lesson learned, wouldn’t do that again,” she added. 

Bass also said she communicated with lawmakers from Florida after receiving criticism for her statement and “realized that that was something that just shouldn’t have been said.”

Bass said she believes in “bridging the divide” between Cuba and the U.S., noting she has worked on health care-related issues in the last two decades. But she said “that doesn’t excuse the fact that I know the Castro regime has been a brutal regime to its people.”

On “Fox News Sunday,” Bass also discussed her statement on Castro, saying in hindsight she “absolutely would not have put that statement out.”

Bass told host Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceBiden adviser: 'He does not have any concern' about Trump lawsuits Public health expert: Americans no longer acting 'with common purpose' on pandemic Anti-Defamation League criticizes White House appointee 'who has consorted with racists' MORE she understood “an awful lot more now” than she did in the 1970s, and that “the Castro regime did not have the same freedoms we do.”

“What I also believe is the best way to deal with change is to have relations,” she noted, crediting the Obama administration’s steps to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE’s 2020 campaign went on the attack on Saturday against Bass. On a call, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate to vote next week on blocking Trump's UAE arms sale GOP urges Trump not to tank defense bill over tech fight Pressure builds for coronavirus relief with no clear path to deal MORE (R-Fla.) and Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez (R) slammed the California lawmaker for past comments and trips to Cuba.

Bass responded to the Trump campaign's calling her a "Communist Karen" and Rubio designating her as a "Castro sympathizer" by saying she didn't consider herself to be a sympathizer of Castro.

"Well one, I don't consider myself a Castro sympathizer," she said. "Number two, my position on Cuba is really no different than the position of the Obama administration."

Zack Budryk contributed.