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Bernie Sanders says "The truth is, nothing I am saying is radical"

Sanders on his debate performance in South Carolina
Sanders on his debate performance in South Ca... 05:09

Bernie Sanders, who describes himself as a Democratic socialist, insisted to a CBS News panel after the debate in Charleston, South Carolina, that nothing he's proposing is radical. Sanders was the target of Democrats at Tuesday's debate as he gains momentum from his big win in Nevada heading into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Sanders, who wants to implement multi-trillion-dollar programs like Medicare for All and free child care, defended his stances on the debate stage and in speaking to moderators afterward. 

"The truth is, nothing I am saying is radical," Sanders told the CBS News panel post-debate. 

Sanders pointed to Canada to the north, nothing they have similar programs, and they're doing well. Sanders was pressed to further address comments he made to CBS News' "60 Minutes," when he criticized the communist Cuban regime but praised the success of a literacy program under Fidel Castro. 

CBS News Democratic debate — Charleston, South Carolina
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during the Democratic presidential primary debate at the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 25, 2020, in Charleston, South Carolina. Seven candidates qualified for the debate, hosted by CBS News and Congressional Black Caucus Institute. Getty

In that interview, Sanders said, "We're very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it'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?"  

In the spin room Tuesday, Sanders said "Cuba is a dictatorship. I've said that 8 million times." He noted —  as he has before — that former President Obama also gave a nod to Cuba's literacy program. During the debate, Biden alleged that Mr. Obama "did not in any way suggest that there was anything positive about the Cuban government," but Mr. Obama did say in 2016 that "the United States recognizes progress that Cuba has made as a nation, its enormous achievements in education and in health care." 

During the debate, Sanders defended his "60 Minutes" comments saying, "really? Literacy programs are bad?"  

"Authoritarianism of any stripe is bad," Sanders continued. "But that's different from saying governments occasionally do something good."

During the debate, "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell asked Sanders "can you do the math for us" on paying for his program. 

Sanders responded "How many hours do you have?" before answering more seriously "All right, let's talk about Medicare for All. "I'm sure you're familiar with the new study that just came out of Yale University, published in Lancet magazine, one of the prestigious medical journals in the world.  You know what it said?  Medicare for all will lower health care costs in this country by $450 billion a year and save 68,000 lives of people who otherwise would have died. "

Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg both went after Sanders for his answer, with both insisting the "math" didn't add up. 

Sanders still also faces questions about how he'd pass any of his progressive plans through a divided Congress, since not even all Democrats are on board with his ideas and the Senate is controlled by Republicans.

Sanders' opponents also have criticized him for not doing enough to compromise and work in a bipartisan fashion to accomplish his agenda. Sanders didn't go into how he'd pass his agenda through Congress, but insisted he could. 

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