Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida thinks “socialist” Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, would make a good candidate for president of Sweden (video below).
"You will be the first Americans to get to answer the fundamental question about what comes next for this country after seven disastrous years of Barack Obama. And let me tell you what the answer better not be. It better not be Bernie Sanders," Rubio said during the Jan. 28 Fox News GOP debate in Iowa.
"Bernie Sanders is a socialist. I think Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president -- of Sweden," Rubio said, as the crowd responded with laughter.
"We don't want to be Sweden, we want to be the United States of America," he added.
Rubio made a grave mistake when he said Sanders was fit to be president of Sweden because the country, as a constitutional monarchy, does not have a president. Sweden has a prime minister, currently Stefan Lofven, and its head of state is its monarch, currently King Carl XVI Gustaf.
Swedish royalists made their unhappiness with Rubio’s blunder known.
“One would expect that these guys, who want to be the most important leader in the world, if they want that job, they should be able to know certain facts -- for example that some European countries are monarchies,” Roger Lundgren, editor of Sweden’s Kungliga magazine and a leading commenter on the country’s royal affairs, told The Local.
“The thing with some American politicians, such as Sarah Palin, is -- I don’t want to use the word stupid, but I do. They are. They are so ignorant about the rest of the world. They think there are two monarchies in the world. And that’s the UK and Monaco, because of Grace Kelly,” Lundgren continued.
"They think that every country in the world who is an ally has the same constitution as them, but we don't. It's ridiculous you know,” he added.
Dick Harrison, an author of a popular book on the history of Sweden, said Rubio’s error was not uncommon -- for an American.
“It’s a common misconception that Sweden is a very socialist country with presidents,” Harrison said. “Actually, we have long royal history going back at least to the Viking Age, and the vast majority of the Swedish population today are in favor of a continued monarchy.”
“It reflects the kind of lack of knowledge about northern Europe that is common among Americans and I’m not the least bit surprised. I’m surprised that he used Sweden as an example, but not that he thinks Sweden is a republic,” Harrison added.
A representative for Sweden’s Royal Court said there would be no comment on Rubio’s error.
At the debate, Rubio also went on the attack over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, stating she is “disqualified from being the commander in chief of the United States.”
“In fact, one of her first acts as president may very well be to pardon herself," Rubio said.
“Because Hillary Clinton stored classified information on her private server and Hillary Clinton lied to the families of those four brave Americans who lost their life in Benghazi," he continued. "And anyone who lies to the families of Americans who have died in the service of this country can never be commander in chief of the United States."
Rubio is currently polling in third place among GOP candidates with 10 percent of voters support, according to estimates by RealClear Politics. He trails front-runner Donald Trump by 25 points, and second place candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas by 9 points.