“What that was about was saying that the United States was wrong to try to invade Cuba, that the United States was wrong trying to support people to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, that the United States was wrong trying to overthrow in 1954 the democratically elected government of Guatemala," Sanders said.
Not surprisingly, the audience at the debate did some booing as Sanders tried to walk the line between supporting what he sees as the benefits of a communist Cuba -- universal health care which eats up less than 10 percent of the nation's GDP, a 99.8 percent literacy rate and free higher education -- and the reality of how the Castro regime has maintained power. It is a dictatorship sustained by force, dissident imprisonment and control of information and travel.
A majority of Americans support both ending the trade embargo with Cuba and normalizing diplomatic relations with the country, according to the Pew Research Center.
And before you chalk this up to people just not really knowing what's happening in Cuba, there are indicators that most Americans are under no illusions about the country's government or how it is likely to clean up its act in the near future.
Of course, none of this means that Sanders's radical past and continued support of socialist governments would fail to be a big, big issue in a general election. In fact, should Sanders become the Democratic nominee, debate-watchers can, among other things, expect many, many more questions about his political philosophy -- along with the formal steps he took to express his opposition to the Reagan Administration's decision to fund and arm a right-wing opposition group in communist Sandinista-controlled Nicaragua while Sanders was mayor of Burlington, Vt.
But for now, in a Democratic presidential primary in Florida, if Sanders pays only a slight price for his past comments, that really says something.