Crist tells CNBC Florida population decline “not that big a deal”by Dara Kam | September 3rd, 2009
Gov. Charlie Crist performed as the Sunshine State’s chief pitch-man, blowing off Florida’s historic population loss and touting the fine weather in a CNBC interview this morning.
Florida saw a drop of 58,000 residents last year, the first population decrease since military residents left the state after World War II.
“It’s not that big a deal, to be honest with you,” Crist shrugged off the decline on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” show today.
The governor then launched into a Sunshine State sales pitch, touting declines in property taxes and property insurance rates and the weather.
“And it’s Florida. It’s a beautiful place. It’s a gorgeous day today down here in South Florida. You just can’t beat the Sunshine State,” said Crist, who is in Miami. Florida I really think is on the rise and it’s a great deal for an awful lot of people, too.”
Although Florida’s unemployment rate is nearly 11 percent, Crist was upbeat about the job market and pointed to Palm Beach County as a shining example.
Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate was 11.7 percent in July, one percentage point above the state average.
“Even in the Palm Beach County area where Scripps and Torrey Pines and some of these other scientific institutes have located, Max Planck…it’s been great for that area of the state,” Crist said. “We’re very pleased with the direction things are going. We wish they were better, don’t misunderstand me. But we’re not sitting still. We’re on the move. And I continue to be optimistic and encouraged about where we’re going.”
Crist, who drew the wrath of fellow Republicans by urging Congress to pass President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, reversed that position on the health care reforms now being considered in Washington.
“I want them to say no. I’m concerned about what’s happening with health care in Washington and I think many Americans are. And I think justifiably so.
One of the greatest concerns, in addition to the tremendous expense and burden it would add to families’ pocketbooks throughout Florida and the country, is the fact that they’re not sure exactly what’s in this thing,” Crist said.
Crist offered some more advice to his comrades in Washington whom he hopes to join next year in the U.S. Senate.
“Americans don’t like to have anything thrust down their throat. That’s a real legitimate concern. When that happens you need to pause, take a breath, go slow, and do what’s right, not what’s wrong,” he counseled.
Crist is running against former House Speaker Marco Rubio in a GOP primary to replace U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, who resigned earlier this summer. Last week, Crist appointed George LeMieux, who has been Crist’s closest political advisor for the past five years, to the post.