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Politics / Issues

PolitiFact-Checks on Charlie Crist

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politifact.com

Former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist is hitting the talk show circuit to promote his book "The Party's Over: How The Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat."

The now-Democrat Charlie Crist is challenging Gov. Rick Scott in the next gubernatorial election.

PolitiFact Florida has been checking out some of what Crist has been saying in his book and on his book tour.

On the Fox Network's "The O'Reilly Factor," host Bill O'Reilly challenged Crist about his stand on abortion.

"On abortion, you wanted in the State of Florida to outlaw it, except in rape and incest," O’Reilly said. "But, now, you morphed into, ‘Hey, it's a woman's body. She can do what she wants.’ It's a pretty big change."

In response, Crist claimed he has been consistent on the topic.

"When I was a young state senator from Tampa Bay -- back in the early ‘90s is when I got elected -- one of the first votes I had as a state senator was on a health care committee. And the bill said you have to have a 24-hour waiting period before a woman could have an abortion if she is making that decision. As a Republican, back in the ‘90s, I voted against the bill. As a result of my ‘no’ vote it died on a tie vote. So I’ve always been pro-life personally. But in terms of wanting to change the law, what I said in 2006 was ‘I’d rather change hearts than laws and that’s still how I feel."

PolitiFact has ruled Crist's stand on abortion a "half-flip."

"We found this to be a half-flip but I can tell you this was really hard," explained PolitiFact's Amy Hollyfield. "Charlie Crist has been all over the map as far as abortion goes. He describes himself as pro-life but he also wants to show respect for a woman's right to make decisions with her doctor. It's something that has shifted here and there. So we rated this a half-flip because he's partially changed his position several times without having one, inflexible position along the way."

The release of  Crist's book has also raised questions about his stand on gay marriage. 

When he was a Republican and governor of Florida, Crist was against gay marriage.

Now, as a Democrat, he's for it.

But Crist says he "always supported civil unions."

PolitiFact's Hollyfield said, "we rated this claim mostly false. It's true that Crist has repeatedly made statements in favor of civil unions going as far back as 2006, but what gets in our way here is the ban on gay marriage that was on the ballot in 2008. Crist tells us he voted for that. It has never been tested but expectations are that that ban also applies to civil unions."