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Crist says moderation in GOP 'is practically non-existent'

Former Gov. Charlie Crist said Friday that moderation is "practically non-existent" in the Republican Party. Speaking on MSNBC, Crist said: "If you don't toe the line and talk in tea party terminology -- you know, we just saw a presidential primary process that was sort of a competition for who could be the most convservative." He noted that U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Richard Lugar are facing challenges from the right.

The former Republican governor, a moderate, ran as an independent for U.S. Senate in 2010 and lost to Republican Marco Rubio. Crist is often mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor of Florida in 2014. 

When Crist spoke glowingly of President Obama as a "centrist ... continually trying to reach out to the Republicans for help," Politico's Ben Smith asked if that was an endorsement of the Democratic presidents re-election. "No, it's not. It's not. It's some admiration, obviously," Crist replied said.

Looking tanned, rested and ready, Crist also reflected on the BP oil spill in a midday appearance on MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner, and praised the Obama administration for its response to the Gulf of Mexico disaster.    

Speaking from a TV studio in Tampa, Crist said: "During those early days, it was a catastrophe of epic proportion." He was interviewed on the second anniversary of the spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, amid new reports that indicate fish are still appearing in the Gulf with many deformities and health problems. Crist said televised images of oil soaked pelicans was a "powerful deterrent to tourism" in Florida for awhile after the spill.

-- Steve Bousquet