Rand Paul said on Wednesday that Bernie Sanders will "have to defend the violence of socialism" like that of Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin.
Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson asked Paul if he felt he could beat potential Democratic alternatives to Hillary Clinton, such as Sanders and Joe Biden. The senator from Kentucky said he thinks "they're all very beatable because they have stale ideas of the past."
When asked specifically if he could beat Sanders, Paul began his critique of Sanders as a socialist, likening his ideology to those driving socialist societies of the past.
"Absolutely," the Paul said of his ability to defeat Sanders in a general election. "I think socialism is a failed system. And people kind of shy away and don't point out that he's a socialist, but socialism requires force. I mean, if you want to sell water or vegetables or cows under socialism, they put you in prison if you're not officially sanctioned by the government."
Sanders has embraced the label, "socialist," saying, "I'm not afraid of the word," but compares his ideas to those of European social democracies. On Wednesday, however, Paul argued that Sanders would have to defend violence, like that in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.
"The government owns the means of production and the only way they can do that is by the force of the gun and so that's why when you had socialism under Stalin you had tens of millions of people killed," Paul said. "Some of them were just trying to grow vegetables on their own land. So socialism is not a benign economic system. It's a horrific system that requires violent and ultimately, if people are serious about considering Bernie Sanders, they're gonna have to understand that he'll have to defend the violence of socialism."
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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