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Politics / Issues

Charlie Crist's Transformation Continues with Speech at the Democratic National Convention

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Charlie Crist's political transformation continued Thursday night, as the one-time "lifelong Republican" spoke during prime time at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Crist became a registered independent when it became clear he couldn't beat Marco Rubio for the GOP Senate nomination in 2010. He has since hinted he might join the Democrat's ranks.
 
Here's part of his speech:
 

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. When he took office, the economic crisis had already put my state of Florida on the edge of disaster. The foreclosure crisis was consuming homeowners, the tourists we depend on couldn't afford to visit and our vital construction industry had come to a standstill. President Obama saw what I saw: a catastrophe in the making. And he took action.

Crist spoke for just over six minutes, and ended with these lines:

And when I look at President Obama, I see a leader with a cool head, a caring heart and an open mind, a president who has demonstrated through his demeanor and through his deeds that he is uniquely qualified to heal our divisions, rebuild our nation and lead us to a brighter future together. That's the leader Florida needs. That's the leader America needs. And that's the reason I'm here tonight, not as a Republican, not as a Democrat, but as an optimistic American who understands that we must come together behind the one man who can lead the way forward in these challenging times: my president, our president, Barack Obama!

Reaction ranged from mostly outrage by Republicans to this opinion column in the Wall Street Journal by Matthew Payne, titled "Sorry, Charlie."

If you weren't sure what party former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was a member of these days, he gave a pretty good indication at the Democratic convention Thursday. "What an honor to be here with you to stand with President Barack Obama," the former GOP governor gushed. "I see a leader with a cool head, a caring heart and an open mind. A president, who has demonstrated through his demeanor, his grace and his deeds that he is uniquely qualified to heal our division, rebuild our nation and lead us to a brighter future."
But Mr. Crist wasn't always so excited about the president. In 2008 he endorsed John McCain. And in 2006, when he ran for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Mr. Crist stressed his conservative values. "I think Charlie Crist is conservative and always has been," he explained to supporters back then. "I believe in less taxes, less spending, less government, more freedom. I'm a Reagan Republican."

Republican reaction to Crist's speech was predictable, with most pointing to his "finger-in-the-wind" positions on the issues.

This is a statement from Lenny Curry, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida:

"It was really sad to watch Charlie Crist's  speech tonight. He struggled to find areas where he could agree with President Obama, but could find none. As a self-proclaimed pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family, anti-tax Reagan Republican-who called himself as conservative as you could get-Crist has a long history of disagreeing with Obama and the Democrats on virtually everything they believe in. This speech was a sad, shameful display of political opportunism where Crist tried once again to shed his own political skin. Charlie Crist proved tonight, as always, that he is only concerned about furthering his own political ambitions."

Want to make up your own mind? Click on the "Listen" icon above to hear Crist's entire speech to the DNC.