WASHINGTON(NEXSTAR) – The 2020 Conservative Political Action Conference is feeling the Bern.
Even though he will not step foot inside the annual conference, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, took center stage Thursday.
Congressional Republicans led the attacks against Sanders’s self-proclaimed “Democratic socialist” policies.
“You surely don’t want socialized medicine,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA, told the crowd.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise was quick to criticize Sanders’s signature Medicare for All plan and how it may have impacted his treatment after the 2017 congressional baseball shooting.
“I would not be here today without the greatest healthcare system on the planet,” Scalise said. “I’m surely not going to let them take that away from you or anyone else.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-TN, explained to the crowd why a Sanders presidency would change more than healthcare.
“When government has that kind of control, they will tell you what your education is going to be, where you’re going to live, what kind of car you’re going to drive, what kind of food you’re going to buy from the grocery store,” Blackburn said.
Sanders has defended his policies for years, arguing that, in many respects, the U.S. already operates a socialist government by propping up corporations.
“What I want is a Democratic socialism that works for working families, not just billionaires,” Sanders said during a CNN town hall.
However, Blackburn even likened Sanders’s policies to a dictatorship, focusing on his recent comments about Fidel Castro’s literacy program when he first came to power.
“My goodness, he was probably excited that Castro was teaching them how to read the communist manifesto,” Blackburn said.
But Sanders stands by his comments.
“Teaching people to read and write is a good thing,” he said. “I have been extremely consistent and critical of all authoritarian regimes all over the world.”
Voters will decide though who gets the last word.