Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist speaks to the delegates at the 2012 Democratic… (Harry E. Walker / MCT )
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a onetime Republican turned independent, savaged the GOP ticket on Thursday, telling a friendly Democratic audience that his old party would not seek common-sense solutions or common ground.
“As a former lifelong Republican, it pains me to tell you that today’s Republicans and their standard-bearers Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan just aren’t up to the task,” Crist told thousands of delegates at the party’s national convention. “They’re beholden to the my-way-or-the-highway bullies, indebted to billionaires who bankroll those ads, and allergic to the very idea of compromise.”
When Crist led Florida, he was a Republican. But he left the party and ran unsuccessfully as an independent when it became obvious that he would have been beaten in the GOP Senate primary. Observers of Florida politics are speculating about Crist possibly running again as a Democrat against Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
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Crist, who received a warm response from the crowd, did not use the convention as his Democratic debut , saying that he came here not as a Republican or Democrat but as an “optimistic American.”
But he did explain why he left the GOP by alluding to a famous statement that Ronald Reagan made about why he left the Democratic Party.
“I didn’t leave the Republican Party; it left me,” Crist said, adding that Reagan would be too moderate for today’s GOP.
As governor, Crist said, his experiences dealing with Obama on the BP oil spill and Obama’s support for the economic stimulus package convinced him of the president‘s leadership skills.
“I’ll be honest with you; I don’t agree with President Obama about everything. But I’ve gotten to know him, I’ve worked with him, and the choice is crystal clear,” he said.
He recalled hugging Obama during a presidential trip to Fort Myers.
“That hug caused me more grief from my former party than you can ever imagine,” he said. “But even as the Republican Party was fighting tooth and nail to stop him, this president showed his courage, invested in America and saved Florida.”
[For the Record, Sept. 14 at 2:51 p.m.: An earlier version of this online post said Charlie Crist ran for the U.S. Senate as an independent after losing the Republican primary to Marco Rubio. Crist in fact filed to run as an independent before the primary took place, although it was after months of polling showed that Rubio would rout him in the GOP primary.]
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