Why is ex-Republican governor Charlie Crist backing Obama?

Posted Aug. 27, 2012, at 7:22 a.m.
Charlie Crist
Charlie Crist

Former Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed President Barack Obama on Sunday, calling him “the right leader for our state and the nation.”

Crist lost a bid for the Senate two years ago to tea party favorite Marco Rubio in a bitter battle that divided the state’s Republican Party. The moderate Republican ran as an independent in the general election after polls showed him losing the GOP primary to Rubio.

In his endorsement, which appeared in Sunday’s Tampa Bay Times under the headline “Here’s why I am backing Barack Obama,” Crist continued to criticize what he says is a Republican Party “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 also brought up last week’s GOP crisis over comments made by Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri about rape and abortion: “Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims.”

A draft of the platform calls for a constitutional amendment protecting human life, but includes no specific language about exceptions for victims of rape.

On the state of the economy when Obama took office in 2009, Crist writes: “The president’s response was swift, smart and farsighted. He kept his compass pointed due north and relentlessly focused on saving jobs, creating more and helping the many who felt trapped beneath the house of cards that had collapsed upon them.”

Crist’s endorsement of the president comes on the eve of the GOP’s nominating convention, the logistics of which have been complicated by Tropical Storm Isaac.

Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry called Crist’s endorsement “a repugnant display from a self-centered, career politician.” In a press release, he also pointed out past instances in which Crist disagreed with Obama’s policies.

And Curry invoked the crisis facing the GOP this week in criticizing the former governor: “For Crist to pull this Obama stunt while Florida faces a hurricane only proves Charlie Crist cares about just one thing: Charlie Crist.”

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