Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg says the high marks that Sen. Bernard Sanders gives Fidel Castro’s reading programs is yet another example of how the avowed Democratic socialist could dent the party’s chance of ousting President Trump in 2020.
Mr. Sanders has emerged as the early frontrunner in the Democratic nomination race. He has come under fire after asserting in an interview over the weekend that it is “unfair” to say that everything about Castro’s Cuba - pointing to the literacy programs as proof.
“This is part of what I am getting at when I say in our one shot to defeat Donald Trump we should think carefully about the consequences of nominating Sen. Sanders,” Mr. Buttigieg said Monday at a CNN town hall in Charleston.
“As a Democrat, I don’t want to be explaining why our nominee is encouraging people to look on the bright side of the Castro regime when we are going into the election of our lives,” he said. “We need to stand unequivocally against dictatorships everywhere in the world.”
Pressed further on whether Mr. Sanders had a point, Mr. Buttigieg said “of course literacy is a good thing.”
“But why are we spotlighting the literacy program of a brutal dictator instead of being unambiguous in our condemnation in the way he has treated his own people?” he said.
Mr. Buttigieg is running second in the race for pledged delegates in the Democratic nomination race after winning the Iowa caucuses and then finishing second in the New Hampshire primary and third in the Nevada caucuses.
The 38-year-old, though, has his work cut out for him in South Carolina. He has struggled to make inroads with black voters, which in 2016 comprised roughly 60% of the Palmetto State’s Democratic primary electorate.
Mr. Sanders stood by his remarks during his appearance at the town hall, saying Mr. Castro “went out and they helped people learn to read and write.”
“You know what, I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing,” Mr. Sanders said.