Sanders doubles down on Castro comments during campaign event

Democratic frontrunner holds firm on Cuba and compliments China in South Carolina

Hours after coming under heavy criticism from a variety of Democrats Monday for a "60 Minutes" interview where he suggested it was “unfair to simply say everything is bad” under the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s rule, Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held firm in his point of view during a prime-time "town hall."

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“Truth is truth," Sanders said on CNN. "If you want to disagree with me, if somebody wants to say – and by the way all those congresspeople that you mentioned just so happen to be supporting other candidates, just accidentally no doubt, coincidentally, but the truth is the truth and that is what happened in the first years of the Castro regime."

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Sanders in the Sunday night "60 Minutes" interview and again on Monday referred to a literacy program that Castro began in Cuba when he seized power. "There were a lot of folks in Cuba at that point who were illiterate. And (Castro) formed the literacy brigade… and they helped people learn to read and write. You know what, teaching people to learn to read and write is a good thing," said Sanders.

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Much of the criticism on Sanders' comments came from members of Congress from Florida, which has a large Cuban population -- many of who fled Castro's regime.

The self-described democratic socialist also noted that he has been "extremely consistent and critical of all authoritarian regimes all over the world including Cuba, including Nicaragua, including Saudi Arabia including China, including Russia."

While defending his record on these countries he also complimented communist China.

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"China is an authoritarian country, becoming more and more authoritarian. But can anyone deny, I mean the facts are clear, that they have taken more people out of extreme poverty than any country in history? Do I get criticized because I say that? That’s the truth.”

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