SORRY, CHARLIE…. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), up until recently a near shoo-in for next year’s Senate race, is facing a spirited challenge from the Republican Party’s far-right flank, which has rallied behind former state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R), Crist’s primary opponent. The right-wing Tea Party crowd wants to Scozzafava Crist — yes, “Scozzafava” is now a verb — and the governor, who had developed a reputation as a relative moderate, has had to scramble.
Two weeks ago, it led Crist to pretend he didn’t align himself with President Obama in February, reality notwithstanding. Yesterday, Crist counted even more on the public having a short memory.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist tells CNN he never endorsed President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus measure, in what appears to be the latest effort by the Florida Republican to distance himself from the president as he seeks his party’s Senate nomination.
“I didn’t endorse it. I didn’t even have a vote on the darned thing,” Crist told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview Wednesday on The Situation Room. “But I understood that it was going to pass and I wanted to be able to utilize it for the benefit of my fellow Floridians.”
The “I didn’t endorse” claim might be more compelling were it not for all the evidence of him throwing his support behind the stimulus package.
In reality, Crist endorsed the White House’s recovery efforts in a speech and in writing. He said, in no uncertain terms, standing alongside the president, “[W]e know that it’s important that we pass this stimulus package…. This is not about partisan politics, this is about rising above that, helping America, and reigniting our economy.”
And we now know, of course, that Crist was right. While many Republicans were embracing a neo-Hooverite agenda and calling for a spending freeze, the Florida governor endorsed an Obama plan that helped prevent a depression. Crist is in the awkward position of responding to the year’s most pressing crisis correctly, but having to pretend otherwise.
For Crist, it’s more important to tell the confused base what it wants to hear than it is to take credit for being right. As Faiz Shakir noted, “Sadly, Crist has taken to deceiving the public, rather than defending a proud record of saving and creating jobs in Florida.”
It’s a shame what GOP primaries do to some people.