Charlie Crist Is Back – and Democrats Are Smart to Take Him In

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Charlie Crist
Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel / MCT / Getty Images

Former Gov. Charlie Crist waves to the crowd gathered for the inauguration of Florida Gov. Rick Scott at the capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., Jan. 4, 2011.

It’s hard to believe now that the GOP ever allowed such a thing. In 2007, the host of a major climate-change summit was none other than Florida’s then governor — and then Republican — Charlie Crist. “If you go back to Republicans’ roots,” Crist told me on the eve of that Miami conference, whose featured speakers included Teddy Roosevelt’s great-grandson, “there’s a strong conservationist bent. It’s important to stand up for what you believe in, regardless of party affiliation.”

That sounds positively quaint today, especially after the GOP’s rabid right, at least in Crist’s telling, shoved him out of the party in 2010. But Crist was serious about reaching across the aisle — and he was a national standard bearer for political moderates. In fact, the most partisan speaker at his 2007 summit was a Democrat, Robert Kennedy Jr., who attacked Republican President George W. Bush and shattered the gathering’s nonpartisan tone. It was a useful reminder that divisive self-righteousness isn’t always a Republican problem.

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Which is why, in spite of the wariness among liberals, it’s a good thing for President Obama’s party that it invited Crist to speak this week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. For starters, Obama owes Crist a favor: Crist’s plunge from Republican grace began in 2009, when he not only backed Obama’s $787 billion stimulus but also gave the Prez a hug onstage. A year later, facing a tough U.S. Senate primary battle against Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio, Crist bolted the GOP, insisting that extremists had hijacked it. As an independent, he lost to Rubio anyway. Since then, Crist, once one of Florida’s most popular chief executives — called the Sunshine Governor for his George Hamilton tan and tireless optimism — has lived in a political wilderness. Now, by endorsing Obama for re-election, Crist just might be making a comeback as a Democrat.

You could call him Charlie Chrysalis — a pol who started out as a red caterpillar (known in the 1990s as Chain Gang Charlie for co-sponsoring a Florida law that revived prison labor in leg irons) but who liked to munch on purple foliage such as stem-cell research and restoring voting rights to felons, and then spent two years in a no-party-affiliation cocoon. Now he looks set to emerge as a blue butterfly, his last phase of metamorphosis. Detractors will say he’s more of an opportunist than anything else. That might be true, but Crist, 56, doesn’t have too many options left. Conservative Democrat was his destiny. And the Dems should welcome him in.

Crist’s centrism suits the less dogmatic ethos that Democrats believe will spell the difference for Obama on Nov. 6. As a prominent Democrat told my colleague Joe Klein this week, “We’re now the party of pragmatists, and the Republicans are the party of ideologues.” In spite of the nation’s protracted economic malaise, the Dems insist that the conservative juggernaut that demolished them in 2010 was more spasm than trend. Either way, appealing to swing voters like independents, Latinos and women — blocs that Crist usually won over in Florida, where independents make up a fifth of the electorate — will be crucial in November. That means the Democratic Party should make use of every Clinton/Blue Dog/Democratic Leadership Council type it can get.

That kind of center-left politics is certainly better designed for barnstorming Florida, where winning is a sine qua non for both Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney — and where the two are tied. There, for example, the Obama campaign has to contend with the fact that 55% of independents oppose the President’s signature Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, according to a July Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll. (Overall in Florida, 52% oppose Obamacare, while 43% support it.) It’s also truer to the sort of postpartisan approach — favoring “sensible compromise,” as Crist wrote in an op-ed endorsing Obama last month, over “extreme rhetoric” — that will come in handy after the election, when both parties will have to grapple more flexibly with pressing fiscal issues like the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

Then there’s the 2014 Florida governor’s race. The Democrats’ chances ought to look good: current Republican governor Rick Scott, the Tea Party tycoon who spent $75 million of his own money to win the 2010 contest, has proved to be one of the country’s most unpopular governors. But if there’s an outfit feckless enough to blow that opportunity, it’s Florida’s Democratic Party, which hasn’t won a gubernatorial election since 1994. So as Miami Herald political writer Mary Ellen Klas has noted, Crist’s endorsement of Obama — timed to rattle the GOP on the eve of its national convention in Tampa last week — may also be an early salvo on his part as Scott’s Democratic challenger.

Crist would be the Florida Dems’ first strong gubernatorial candidate in two decades. He may have baggage in the state, not just for his protean politics (as governor, he was accused of flip-flopping twice on offshore oil drilling) but also for controversies like his relationship with former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer, who faces trial on fraud and money-laundering charges. But Crist is still well regarded by Florida voters, including traditional Democratic constituencies like African Americans, who gave him 20% of their vote in 2006, the most a Florida Republican has ever received.

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Which begs a larger question: Could a Crist comeback mean a revival of the more moderate, bipartisan politics we’ve given up for dead in the U.S.? Probably not, at least in the short run. But Crist’s backing of Obama, himself a believer of postpartisan governance, does help the President’s re-election prospects. And if Obama wins, which will likely have to include winning Florida, it will be a vindication for Crist, who in his Tampa Bay Times endorsement insisted that he stood with Obama on the stimulus in 2009 “because uniting to recover from the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes was more important than party affiliation.”

That sounds familiar. And if things go Obama’s way in November, it might not sound so quaint.

52 comments
Mallen1998
Mallen1998

A man or a woman so lacking in character and principals that would one day he would be a Republican then an independent and then a Democrat just so that he can stay on the public dole deserves no votes no contributions or even a recognition.


NY has their Weiner, we in Florida have him. He will do anything, say anything just so that he doesn't have to go get a real job.

How can someone be in favor of abortion and against it as well? How can someone call themselves a Republican and then bury his ever so prominent nose up Obama's rear?


I believe if Charlie thought he could win as a Communist, he would  run as a  Communist . To him. end justifies the means.

How does he think his Republican supporters felt when they gave him their hard earned money and Charlie became an Independent in mid campaign when it became obvious Rubio would mop the floor with him?


Florida deserves better. I would vote for Mickey Mouse before he would get my vote.


With Charlie in office 2nd. Amendment would be at risk. If he can flip flop on Life and Death, he can flip flop on everything else.

He is the epitome of a spineles, slimy politician. 
Still remember his Morgan Morgan TV ads. 


Not long ago he was bragging about having his name on the long list as Obama's running mate!

Florida really deserve better. Come to think of it, we deserve better than Scott as well.


Charlie, please go away and save what little dignity you might still have.


JZimm09
JZimm09

When conservatives don't have a good argument to make (which is often), they resort to name-calling (which is often).  You see that here.  People change parties both ways.  Crist changing is no big deal.  Facts are Obama tried to reach compromise with the House many times...and had a budget deal going with Boehner, but when Boehner went back to the house, the tea party members revolted amp; he had to turn Obama down.  Facts you conservative nimrods choose to forget.  Obama has been as good as his word.  We're out of Iraq.  We're going to be out of Afghanistan.  Al-Qaeda has been hit hard by drones in Afghanistan amp; Pakistan, many top leaders have been killed and bin Laden is gone.  Obama fought for healthcare as he said he would even though he knew there would be a political cost.  We were spared a depression.  GM amp; Chrysler are thriving again.  Unemployment is down from 10%+ and would be lower if state gov't workers (teachers, firemen amp; police) hadn't been forced off payrolls and House republicans hadn't dogmatically opposed every job-creating initiative Obama proposed.  No, Obama has lived up to his promises.  To say he hasn't marks you as obvious liars.

RicardoCCC
RicardoCCC

Clearly the writer is not a Floridian.  Crist is finished in Florida politics.  The Democrats would never nominate him for anything ... they have their own bench of wannabes.  He's been reduced to making commercials for an ambulance- chasing law firm on TV.  He's strictly an opportunist and every Floridian knows this.  I notice the writer omitted Crist's comments in 2008 that Sarah Palin was as qualified to be president as Obama.  This article is way off the mark.

LegalBagel
LegalBagel

"Obama, himself a believer of postpartisan governance"....  It took me a good minute to stop laughing at that one!  Obama only believes in postpartisan governance when he is campaigning.  When he is governing, he believes, like most partisan politicians do, in advancing his party's agenda.  He was an uber-idealogue before becoming president and he continues to govern like one.

JCQueipo
JCQueipo

I voted for him the last time around when he was a republican, and I'm a self confessed LIBERAL !!!!

Rumionemore
Rumionemore

Most people don't even know who Charlie  Crist is, or was.

akpat
akpat

So who on here thinks that tax haven Mitt can fix this country ?

SmilingSmartBlonde
SmilingSmartBlonde

Does your party believe in the following:

Anti--intellectualism , check

The rejection of science, check.

Denial of the very real and present danger of global climate change, check.

Those three checks are strikes against any party, any leader, anywhere... and particularly offensive to Floridian intellects. (Floridians are NASA- loving people who embrace science)

Welcome aboard Crist, former GOP guy. Just don't rock the boat too much.  And remember who  threw you a lifejacket. If you previously wore the other side's colors, please don't expect to steer the boat or to be  captain any time soon. 

ERenger
ERenger

Moderates and pragmatists are welcome in the Democratic party. The GOP is going through an ideological purge, so it won't be surprising if you see more ex-Republican moderates becoming Democrats. 

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

Crist is just another political whore, who needed a new home after he was passed over...Stop re-writing history..

superlogi
superlogi

I agree, taking in Crist is good.  After all, he's a good fit for liberals, having been a closet liberal all of his life.  He's a whiny, dejected and mendacious twit who will fit right in.  Any way, where else could he go?

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

paulie... the "windblown garbage can" of the Swamp.

Littering... rather than enhancing... the conversational landscape.

DerekHologram
DerekHologram

Pragmatism is a philosophical concept that has way more to do with epistemology and the verification of truth, than it does with the relativistic world of political compromise. The pragmatists would puke out the ideas that pass for pragmatism today, a world dominated by false analogy and non-critical thinking.

paulejb
paulejb

Guess why Barack Obama invited Charlie Crist to his convention.

"Top Democrats to Skip Party's Convention"

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics... 

Charlie was just a last second prom date after everyone else turned Barry down.

paulejb
paulejb

When Obama took office Democrats held:

• 56 Senate seats. It is 51 now (plus two independents who align mostly with the Democrats).

• 257 seats in the House of Representatives. It is 190 now (there are also three vacancies for seats last held by Democrats).

• 29 of the 50 governorships. It is 20 now.

• 4,073 state legislative seats. It is 3,319 now.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/03/...

Barack Obama needs Charlie Crist since there are so many fewer Democrats in office since he was elected.

paulejb
paulejb

Tim Padgett,

Were you as kind to Sen Joe Lieberman in 2008? Joe, at least, still won his Senate seat as an independent after being dumped unceremoniously by radical left Democrats in Connecticut.

paulejb
paulejb

Bitter politician rejected by the voters of his own party lashes out in anger. And that's the best that TEAM OBAMA can muster to defend four long years of epic fail?

Mallen1998
Mallen1998

@JZimm09  

Charlie didn't change parties because he finally saw the light. He changed parties as an opportunist.

Florida is better off without him. Let him go do something else for a change..Maybe try "work" for a change.

His poor wife must have had enough!

Keegs79
Keegs79

@JZimm09 Lived up to his promises? Why do people like you blindly follow party affiliation??? Obama wasn't transparent. He allowed NSA to run amok! He said people could keep their insurance. He said he would cut the deficit in half his first term or he wouldn't run for re-election. He said Obamacare isn't a tax yet it will be written on are tax returns. He also allowed the IRS to play corrupt roles against the tea party. He said green jobs would create jobs, it created thousands in China! It lost 100s of millions dollars of unaccounted for money! Oh and think Bush for the ground work against Osama Bin Laden or he would never been caught.

You said he fought for obamacare even though it would be a political cost? That is saying that people didn't want it so he forced it because that is the reason why it would be at a political cost, because it is not popular with the people. He got it simply because he had a filibuster majority. Its insane to pass such a massive bill that is not constitutional and that nobody read!

Lastly, Obama doesn't compromise. Don't talk about him reaching across an aisle. He never feels he has to.


-Independent for Life! You republicans and democrats are political sheep!

JCQueipo
JCQueipo

Google it my friend !!!!

Steven Alvarado
Steven Alvarado

Funny how liberals reject math as much as they embrace 'science'.

Tero1
Tero1

I'm sure he's torn apart that a fat teabagger in a pink shirt thinks he's a "wh0re". I know I would be...

Tero1
Tero1

I'm sure he's torn apart that a fat teabagger in a pink shirt thinks he's a "whore". I know I would be...

paulejb
paulejb

AfGuyReturns,

I really pizz you losers off, don't I, AfGuy?

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

Did you even bother to read the article?

Since she's secretary of state, federal statute and the State Department's ethical guidelines prohibit Clinton from participating in political activities such as a party convention.

Other cabinet secretaries, such as Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder, will also not be in Charlotte for the same reasons that will keep Clinton away.

Gore is about as toxic as W, whose name and record were all but buried at last week's GOP convention, and Governor Moonbean wouldn't add much either. Thanks to Todd Akin, McCaskill actually has a chance to win in Missouri, and she's made a reasonable decision that staying home to campaign is a better use of her time. 

I don't consider any of the rest to be "top" Democrats.

Ed-words
Ed-words

It's like the 8 Bush years never happened.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

We're talking about a different state.  LIEberman's profile as a sitting senator was much higher than Crist's.

That said, if Crist wins the Dem nomination he will clean Lurch's clock. Heck, if Alex Sink (she was not "weak," as the post implies) runs again and wins it, she'll clean Lurch's clock!

fhmadvocat
fhmadvocat

Paulie,

Would you say the same thing about Arthur Davies who spoke at the Republican Convention?  Heck, Davies even left Alabama and moved to northern Virginia!

Rumionemore
Rumionemore

I know Crist was defeated for governor of Fla.  in the 2010 primaries by Scott, a Tea Partier. He was understandably soured by this. Rumors persist that he's gay, so maybe the Democrats are a friendlier group for him. Many potential Dem voters (youth, minorities) will not know him unless they lived in Fla. Other politicians may be impressed by Crist's showing up at the convention.

SmilingSmartBlonde
SmilingSmartBlonde

Steven

Embracing Math and Science is very important and not just for Floridians in the Swing State of Florida.

Let's look at some Math, just as an example of how we ought to understand the numbers and embrace them. Specifically let's examine the War in Iraq. It continues to be expensive and unaffordable. 

  The Pultizer Prize winning economists who wrote: “The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq War" have strong assertions about this subject. Authors Bilmes and Stiglitz provided a comprehensive look at that "Math".

Also, just in general conservatives like former President George H Bush actively opposed pre-emptive war in Iraq, after examining and analyzing the numbers.

The current budget hawks like Paul Ryan like to cut expenses but they do not seem to touch defense spending. There are grave worries that the budget hawks might overlook the cost of  a possible War in Iran, just as they did with Iraq.

Perhaps you will give this some thought. Hope so!

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

 You mean big boned Libertarian in a pink shirt..I'm sure you get more tore up over re-runs of Sex in the City or missing the clearance sale at Banana Republic than my political banter.. 

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

It's the only way that Yogi knows.

Benevolent Lawyer
Benevolent Lawyer

 SSB, that's all he has in his hate filled and tortured mind. Some folks are better ignored, or if they make direct threats against the president, reported.

superlogi
superlogi

Even accurate name calling?  Or is felon, nazi or killing women more acceptable to you.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Nah, more like what I feel when, after a bad thunderstorm, I have to go out and pick up trash out of the front ditch.

Annoyance, more than being pizzed off.

The trash can't help itself... it just goes where the wind blows... you can.

Or SHOULD be able to...

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

If we don't consider ourselves losers, then why are you so righteously indignant?

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

 Yeah I know right, Obama has caused so much carnage in just under 4 years to eclipse any of the screw ups Bush laid on us..

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Answer: No, Paulie would not.  IOKIYACR.*

*C = Converted

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

Exactly what is wrong with a pink shirt? I was wearing it for a golf tournament for a friend who's going through the fight of her life with cancer. Girlish whining? That's coming from someone who's consumed with someone's outward appearance.

One more thing, your avatar, nah, that could never be confused with someone who's gay..No way..You might as well, just used a picture of a Coach purse, Nancy.. 

As far as my original post, Crist is exactly what I said he is, anyone who would climb in bed with Obama and the Democrats, just to get his political career jump started again is a political wh0re! 

Tero1
Tero1

Based on the girlish whining in your posts I would have to speculate, that in fact, none of your "bones" are very "big".

Awww, insinuations of being gay. I would expect nothing less from a fat loser in a pink shirt.

Tero1
Tero1

Isn't it cute how he thinks his lame posts have any affect on anyone?

I also have to point out that referring to others as "losers" is not such a good idea when he spends ALL of his time in front of a computer posting angry rants on political news forums.

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

 First of all when anyone in this country goes into debt in their checkbook, the smart people, cut back on spending, they do with less, and hopefully things get back to square.

When Washington was facing the similar fate, where was the leadership? Where was the restraint? The Republicans lost the mid-term elections  under Bush because the Democrats went from Coast to Coast talking nothing but how reckless Bush and the Congress was on spending..Remember?

Now that Obama and the Democrats won all branches, they went back to their usual ways, and that was  foolishly trying to spend their way out of an economic situation, which by accounts has failed miserably. The unemployment is 8.3% and that's just the people who are still looking for work.. The real number is around 16%.

Paul Ryan and the Republicans who after got their butts handed to them for getting off the path, and if you add new the Tea Party Congressmen who got elected to stop the spending, and refused to allow our country to fall deeper into the Abyss, stood their ground. Elections have consequences for The Democrats  as well. In a time of economic crisis, you don't start the printing presses up, you start trimming..Obama bailed out anyone who was politically connected to him and gave away a trillion dollars that did nothing, and I mean nothing to stimulate the economy. He paid back his friends in the Unions, handsomely! Notably at GM, while 20,000 non-union workers Delphi lost their pensions and health benefits, that's a FACT.

Fast and Furious was started under Obama. Under Bush the ATF ran a similar operation (Wide Receiver), and the record shows that it was 200 guns that walked, along with the cooperation of The Mexican Government. Under Fast and Furious, over 2,000 guns walked, and The Mexican Government knew nothing of the program. Eric Holder lied to Congress, Obama sealed the Brian Terry records, and as of yet, no manager has been punished..

Obama took 700 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare..Plain and simple..It's gone, and there is plenty of proof in the Congressional debates on Youtube and CSPAN.

Romney Care was for his state, and I would much rather the states have control over Medicaid/Medicare than the federal government. The fraud is easier to spot, and remedy.

John Corzine ran the company...How could he not be responsible? He walks away, without even a slap on the wrist.

We should have never went to war in Iraq or Afghanistan. We should do what Ron Paul has been saying for years, and that's mind our own GD business..

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

First there's the debt, tripled..

To stop a economic free-fall, resulting from previous GOP policies. Wars "off the books".... remember "supplemental budget resolutions" to fund them? Now they ARE budgeted... which causes the deficit to go UP, just NOT because we INCREASED spending on them. Deregulation of the financial industry, you remember that, don't you? CDS and other financial WMDs... Bush started off with a surplus.... or have you forgotten?

Our credit rating, lowered..

Thank Paul Ryan and the House for that one.  They were the ones that triggered that with the first budget showdown... or had you forgotten?

Then there's Obamacare...

You mean RomneyCare, don't you? That's where it began.

...the ripping off of Medicare...

Also in the GOP platform. But a discussion could be had with who is actually proposing a "rip-off".

Fast and Furious

Poor decision by those in charge, but program was begun under Bush... remember?

MP Global's meltdown, and no one is held accountable because it was run by John Corzine...

Got a bone to pick with the DOJ in general myself, but it wasn't  because of Corzine.  They've pretty much let EVERYONE go recently. Bush, Cheney, Arpaio, Blankfein, banksters, ALL have been let off the hook.

We are still in Afghanistan...

Guess what? GOP has no plans to pull out.  And who was it that supported pulling out of Afghanistan in the first place to go invade Iraq? The perpetrators of 9-11 sure as h*ll weren't in Iraq. Come to think of it, why haven't we done anything about Saudi Arabia (other than holding hands with them, that is)?

Rumionemore
Rumionemore

Bush has not been president in nearly four years. That Obama and his minions keep mentioning him is unfortrunate for Obama. Not so bad for Bush. He did his time - twice elected. He got his Congress to declare war. Reagan and Clinton had success leading their Congresses in passing legislation. And Obam? No. Obama is not a leader. He has an off, stand offish, introverted personality, he does not get business (has lived off taxpayers all his career), and did not have enough real world experience to hone his leadership skills. Why was it we elected this man? Nice clothes? Cute kids?

Terry Clifton
Terry Clifton

 AfGuy,

Let's see.. First there's the debt, tripled..Our credit rating, lowered.. Then there's Obamacare, the ripping off of Medicare, Solyndra, Fast and Furious, killing of innocent Americans in Yemen, killing of innocent Pakistani's with drone strikes.. The unemployment is still 8.3%, MP Global's meltdown, and no one is held accountable because it was run by John Corzine, his refusal to let Keystone XL extend the pipeline, thus costing high paying jobs to go away, his two budgets got no votes in the Senate, the Senate not passing a budget in over 1,200 days.. We are still in Afghanistan, and Gitmo now has a soccer field and kittens for the terrorists, nice..

You're drowning in that river, and no, I not throwing you a rope...I'm enjoying the view..

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Denial is such a comfortable, PRETTY river... no wonder you like to sit beside it so much.