Speaking on CBS’ ‘60 Minutes’ on Sunday night, the socialist senator and Democratic frontrunner was grilled over the “positive things” he said about the Soviet Union and Cuba in the 1980s.

“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” Sanders told host Anderson Cooper, before continuing: “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?”

Though Sanders criticized Castro’s jailing of political dissidents, the damage was done. The right – and the center left that makes up Sanders’ opposition within the Democratic party – dogpiled on the Vermont senator for singing“the praises of a murderous tyrant like Fidel Castro.”

Amid the torrent of anti-Castro indignation, some commenters compared Sanders’ equivocation to praising Hitler for producing the Volkswagen, or Mussolini for “making the trains run on time.”

Despite the bipartisan outcry, the ‘60 Minutes’ interview will likely do little to dent Sanders’ popularity. Media efforts to label Sanders a “communist” and a Russian stooge failed to prevent his primary win in Nevada last weekend, and comparisons between his victory and the Nazi invasion of France invoked more ridicule than shock.

Sanders’ left-wing sympathies were well known before Sunday’s interview. In particular, his 1988 trip to the Soviet Union – characterized by Republicans as a ‘honeymoon’ behind enemy lines – has been used against him ever since his last shot at the presidency in 2016. 

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