Former Republican (and future Dem governor candidate?) Charlie Crist endorses Obamaby George Bennett | August 26th, 2012
Timed, no doubt, to get a rise out of his former party as Republicans from across the U.S. arrive in Tampa for this week’s GOP convention, the Crist endorsement provoked a quick denunciation from Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry.
“Today we have seen a repugnant display from a self-centered, career politician. While the people of Florida, and thousands of visitors who’ve traveled here, are facing an emergency, Charlie Crist has demonstrated, yet again, that his political ambition will always come first,” Curry said.
Lifelong Republican Crist was elected governor in 2006 and got some consideration to be John McCain‘s running mate in 2008. He was a slam-dunk favorite to win the 2010 Republican Senate nomination, but Marco Rubio tapped into tea party dissatisfaction with Crist’s embrace of the $787 billion Democratic stimulus bill. Crist introduced Obama, and briefly hugged the recently inaugurated Democratic president, during a stimulus pep rally in Fort Myers in February 2009.
Rubio used a picture of “The Hug” to symbolize conservative dissatisfaction with the moderate Crist and overtook him in the polls. Crist dropped out of the Republican Party in 2010 and continued his Senate bid as a no-party candidate, abandoning his conservative GOP primary rhetoric to accuse his old party of being beholden to extremists on the right. Crist lost the general election to Rubio but outpolled Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek.
Crist echoes his 2010 general election themes in today’s op-ed.
“As Republicans gather in Tampa to nominate Mitt Romney, Americans can expect to hear tales of how President Obama has failed to work with their party or turn the economy around. But an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they’ve proven incapable of governing for the people,” Crist says.
Crist also addresses his Obama hug in the article.
“Pundits looking to reduce something as big as a statewide election to a single photograph have blamed the result of my 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate on my greeting of President Obama,” Crist writes. “I didn’t stand with our president because of what it could mean politically; I did it because uniting to recover from the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes was more important than party affiliation. I stood with our nation’s leader because it was right for my state.”
Crist is frequently the subject of speculation he’ll run for governor as a Democrat in 2014.
For now, he’s practicing law with an Orlando firm. Crist’s picture appears on numerous billboards for the Morgan & Morgan firm in Central Florida. Some say “For The People” while in others the former governor reminds drivers to buckle up and stop texting.