Bernie Sanders Denies Honeymooning in the Soviet Union

In 1988, then-mayor of Burlington (Vt.) Bernie Sanders traveled to the Soviet Union to establish a “sister city” relationship with the city of Yaroslavl. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) switched up the story of his “very strange” honeymoon location, telling Rebel Media’s Jessica Swietoniowski over the weekend that he did not honeymoon in the Soviet Union, despite previously suggesting otherwise.

Sanders campaigned in Iowa over the weekend and was asked if he regretted spending his honeymoon in the former Soviet Union. Sanders flatly denied that he did, telling Swietoniowski to get her facts straight.

“From what we heard, it was your honeymoon,” Swietoniowski told Sanders.

“Well, you heard wrong. You should get your facts right,” Sanders quipped, claiming that the trip was about establishing a sister-city relationship with Yaroslavl and nothing more.

However, that is not how the Washington Post described Sanders’ trip.

The report read in part:

Bernie Sanders was bare-chested, towel-draped, sitting at a table lined with vodka bottles, as he sang “This Land Is Your Land” to his hosts in the Soviet Union in the spring of 1988.

The just-married socialist mayor from Vermont was on what he called “a very strange honeymoon,” an official 10-day visit to the communist country, and he was enthralled with the hospitality and the lessons that could be brought home.

There is, indeed, footage of a shirtless Sanders singing “This Land Is Your Land” with a group of people in the former Soviet Union:

Sanders’ 1997 memoir Outside in the House also referenced his “romantic” honeymoon.

As MSNBC noted in a 2015 article titled “The 25 best things we learned from Bernie Sanders’ book”:

Sanders married his current wife, Jane, in May of 1988 and the next day left for their “romantic honeymoon” to Yaroslavl, in the then-Soviet Union. The trip was an official delegation from Burlington to cement the two cities’ sister-city relationship. “Trust me. It was a very strange honeymoon,” Sanders writes.

He also visited Cuba with Jane in 1989 and tried to meet with Fidel Castro, but it didn’t work out and he met with the mayor of Havana and other officials instead.

Sanders is proud of Burlington’s international diplomacy efforts. “Burlington had a foreign policy because, as progressives, we understood that we all live in one world,” he writes.

The Vermont senator’s wife, Jane, also spoke about their unconventional honeymoon in a 2007 interview with Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.

“The day after we got married, we marched in a Memorial Day parade, and then we took off in a plane to start the sister city project with Yaroslavl with 10 other people on my honeymoon,” she said.

Swietoniowski managed to track down Sanders once again and presented him with these facts. Still, Sanders insisted that it was not a “honeymoon.”

“Well, because I was married just previous to that … but this wasn’t a honeymoon,” Sanders said, again pointing to the “delegation of folks from Burlington, Vermont” who went to establish a sister-city relationship. He refused to answer elaborate beyond that.

The Trump campaign has not shied away from talking about Sanders’ unconventional honeymoon. In May, the Trump campaign sent supporters an email which read in part:

While President Trump has been fighting to Make America Great Again, Democrats like Bernie Sanders are fighting to make America the next Venezuela. Today is actually Bernie’s anniversary and he loves radical socialism so much that he took his honeymoon to the Soviet Union. What a joke!

Earlier in the year, a video resurfaced, showing Sanders praising breadlines, calling them a “good thing,” ultimately earning him the nickname “Breadline Bernie.”

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