Republicans look to squeeze Dems with vote on Bernie’s Cuba comments

When announcing their plans, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Democrats have a choice: “Do they stand with Bernie or do they stand for freedom?”

The resolution could put vulnerable Democrats — who have broken with their party on GOP procedural votes before — in a tough spot. Several Democratic lawmakers have slammed Sanders for his remarks and there is growing concern that Sanders could cost them key Senate and House races, as well as their quest for the White House, if he becomes their nominee.

But there is also a desire among Democrats to show party unity, especially as Sanders has emerged as a frontrunner in the primary race.

“Whatever the atmosphere is — and I would hope that everyone would say, no matter who the nominee is for president — we whole-heartedly embrace that person,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her members during a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday.

Still, several Democrats have openly expressed discomfort with Sanders’ sympathetic comments toward Castro, which are fueling broader concern about whether his brand of democratic socialism will be an easy sell in key swing states like Florida.

“As the first South American immigrant member of Congress who proudly represents thousands of Cuban Americans, I find Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments on Castro’s Cuba absolutely unacceptable,” tweeted freshman Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.), who flipped a GOP district in 2018.

Even Democratic lawmakers outside of Florida sought to distance themselves from Sanders.

“Stalin doubled literacy in the Soviet Union, even as he murdered tens of millions of people. Apologists for dictatorship – Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia – always say ‘they do some bad things, and some good things.’ It’s a way of making them seem just like us. It’s utterly wrong,” tweeted freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), who also represents a swing district.

Sanders has also come under fire from Democrats for other foreign policy positions, including his decision to boycott the hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which he has accused of “bigotry.”

“Senator Sanders owes an immediate apology for his appalling comments about AIPAC and those who believe deeply in the US-Israel relationship — a strategic alliance that is key in the fight against terror,” tweeted centrist Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.).