By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) Sen. Bernie Sanders has a long and less-than-glorious history of showing preference for countries with authoritarian forms of government, and his praise of one of them on a nationally televised weekly news program Sunday is going to haunt him big time on the campaign trail.
That’s the opinion of a number of Republican campaign experts who are panning his “60 Minutes” performance in which he tut-tutted interviewer Anderson Cooper for questioning his support of Cuban revolutionary dictator Fidel Castro’s ‘reading programs.’
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As we reported:
During an appearance on CBSâ€™ â€œ60 Minutesâ€ program Sunday, the original Bernie Bro actually defended one of the most brutal, repressive Communist leaders of the past half-century, the late Fidel Castro, mostly because he, um, taught his people how to read, or something.
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) February 24, 2020
â€œWeâ€™re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, itâ€™s unfair to simply say everything is bad. 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?” Sanders said.
Well, his deflection to President Trump and the supposed “love letters” from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un aside (Debate question: “Sen. Sanders, what wouldÂ you do to get North Korea to denuclearize?”), Sanders’ “love” for Communist regimes and movements throughout his political history is well-documented. We just got a glimpse Sunday, and the only reason we did is because CBS, which airs 60 Minutes, is a Left-wing Democrat propaganda factory like the rest of the mainstream media and they don’t want Sanders getting the nomination, either.
But let’s play along anyway. As The Epoch Times reports, from the perspective of GOP campaign experts, Sanders’ Commie-loving past will write Trump’s campaign ads for him:
â€œIt doesnâ€™t matter who the Democrats put up as the nominee. The GOP will paint them as socialists no matter what,â€ said Jimmy Williams, former senior economic adviser to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). â€œThe only problem is Sanders is an actual Socialist, an admitted anti-capitalist and, if heâ€™s the nominee, the ads will be true.â€
â€œAt the risk of stating the obvious, this is not going to help him, or other Democrats, in the crucial battleground state of Florida,â€ acknowledged Jim Manley, former communications director for then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Christy Setzer, founder and president ofÂ New Heights Communications,Â was more optimistic, noting that â€œthereâ€™s no reason to do Republicansâ€™ opposition work for them. That said, you donâ€™t need to do a terribly intense Google search to find all the times [President Donald] Trump praised and continues to praise a variety of dictators. So, I feel pretty confident this is recoverable.â€
Others werenâ€™t so sure. Christian Hanley ofÂ Defiance StrategiesÂ and theÂ â€œKeep It In Perspectiveâ€Â podcast, warned that Sanders â€œwould do well to explain his comments and put them in context immediately. The attack ads writeÂ themselves.â€
Similarly,Â Robin Biro, a regional director for President Barack Obamaâ€™s 2008 campaign, said he expects â€œto be hearing about this comment through the general election and am already bracing myself for the inevitability that GOP pundits will use this against me during our debates. I would do the same if the shoe was on the other foot.â€
A former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger, Biro served two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
A Washington, D.C.-based Democratic strategist agreed that Sandersâ€™ comment will especially hurt his prospects in Florida.
â€œThis will no doubt alienate Latino voters in Florida, a state that will be crucial to his election chances. These are the types of comments that will continue to give more moderate Dems anxiety about Bernie winning the nomination,â€ said strategist and attorneyÂ Kevin Chavous.
Beverly Halberg, president of District Media Group, a GOP-aligned firm,Â said Sanders is being looked at closely now â€œnot just by Republicans but by Democrats who are terrified that heâ€™ll be the nominee. He can either apologize for past comments or embrace them. Heâ€™s chosen the latter, which is true to his brand that oozes authenticity.â€
Sandersâ€™ comments, she added, â€œwill have impact in Florida, where many people know firsthand the brutality of the Castro regime. But Bernie is strong with millennials, many who have not researched the extent of the abuses that are still taking place in Cuba.â€
And that’s why the Trump campaign will make an issue of them. The president is also very likely to have a strong ally in a former presidential contender, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose parents hailed from Cuba.
“The likely Dem nominee praised the supposed â€˜achievementsâ€™ of Castro regime. And heâ€™s wrong about why people didnâ€™t overthrow Castro. Itâ€™s not because he â€˜educated their kids, gave them health care,â€™ itâ€™s because his opponents were jailed, murdered or exiled,” he tweeted.
As for Trump’s past comments, well, nothing the Democrats have done thus far has separated him from his supporters. And in fact, as has been documented, their impeachment effort actually won him support. Plus, the president is a known quantity as commander-in-chief and head of the Executive Branch; he has an actual record to run on.
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Bernie…has Fidel. And the USSR. And the Sandinistas. And a lot of explaining to do.
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