Marco Rubio sticks up for Bernie Sanders

Story highlights

  • The Florida Republican corrected a questioner at a "Life of the Party" event in New Hampshire
  • The beauty of democracy, Rubio said, is that debate can happen

Washington (CNN)Marco Rubio says socialism is distinct from the communism his parents fled in Cuba and he doesn't fault Bernie Sanders for promoting it -- but that doesn't mean he agrees with his Senate colleague.

The Florida Republican corrected a questioner at a "Life of the Party" event in New Hampshire Wednesday who compared Sanders' brand of socialism with what Rubio's family fled when they left Cuba.
"In fairness, they fled communism," Rubio interjected. "There is social democracy, right, like you see in Europe, where government provides for every aspect of your life, but there's consequence to that. They fled communism, which is beyond socialism, obviously where government controls society, but also government controls politics, life, the banning of religion, people were being executed."
    The questioner took his point, but asked him if he ever wants to tell Sanders that he's going too far.
    Rubio disagreed, saying that while he's not a supporter of socialism, he praises Sanders for speaking his mind.
    "What I appreciate about Bernie is he's not trying to shirk from it," Rubio said. "It's what he believes in. He's honest about it."
    He also noted that the viewpoint obviously resonates with plenty of people who support Sanders' presidential campaign and have re-elected him in Vermont.
    "I don't think it works for America," Rubio said. "My argument is, you want to live in a country like that -- there's like dozens of countries around the world that are socialist -- move there. We should continue to be America."
    But the beauty of democracy, Rubio added, is that the debate can happen.
    "I don't personally have a problem with Bernie because he's being honest about what he believes in. I'd love to have that debate," Rubio said.
    While in New Hampshire, Rubio picked up a third endorsement from former Scott Walker state co-chairs, adding the support of Phyllis Woods, according to NH1.