Now that former Republican and former Gov. Charlie Crist has officially cast his lot with President Obama, the Republican Party of Florida hits back in a memo from RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry, who displays amnesia and remarkable memory at the same time.
On one hand, the memo outlines many of the rightward statements and maneuvers by Crist, who campaigned for years as a "Jeb Bush Republican." On the other hand, Curry accuses Crist of having "killed Florida's economy" while governor.
Guess who cheered Crist on at the time? The Republican Party of Florida, which claimed the tax cuts he pushed for helped the economy. Instead, Florida sank further into recession. As the Florida press corps wrote stories and blogs in 2009 and 2010 about the bad shape of the economy, Republicans actually pushed back by saying the economic data wasn't so bad and that we were being unfair to Crist.
Once Crist ceased to be a Republican, the party happily encouraged the media to write the very stories it once decried. And the party statement also bashes Crist for penning an op-ed when a storm is approaching Florida. Well, Mitt Romney did as well. Is that opportunism?
Is Crist an opportunist? There's a good case made below. But he probably has some company.
Here's the memo:
Friends and colleagues, we have just learned that Charlie Crist - who served in Florida politics for decades as a Republican - has endorsed Barack Obama. Make no mistake about it: This is Charlie Crist trying to shed his skin for a political comeback.
As the mainstream media rush to portray this as a victory for Democrats, please join me in reminding reporters and the people of Florida exactly what you and I already know; this is political opportunism, plain and simple.
Consider Crist's own words:
Crist: I Don't Agree with President Obama. "He also wanted to make it clear that backing Obama on one issue doesn't mean he supports him on everything. "I don't agree with the guy on hardly anything he does," Crist said. "I mean, what they're doing with health care right now is unbelievable."" (Farrington, Brendan, "Fla. Gov. Crist is not sorry he backed stimulus," Associated Press, 1/9/10)
Charlie Crist Called Himself a Reagan Republican. "'I think Charlie Crist is a conservative and always has been,' Crist said last week in Panama City. 'I believe in less taxes, less spending, less government, more freedom. I'm a Reagan Republican.'" (Hollis, Mark, "RIGHT IS MIGHT IN GOP RACE FOR GOVERNOR," Sun-Sentinel, 7/17/06)
Crist Said He's 'Pro-Life, Pro-Gun, Pro-Family and Pro-Business. "'I think it's pretty obvious what he's doing,' Crist said. "Polling is not good. We're coming into the end of the election. This is the fourth time he's run for governor. And so, here we are." Crist concluded, "I'm pro-life, I'm pro-gun, I'm pro-family, and I'm pro-business.'" (Kennedy, John, "Crist, Gallagher square off in free-swinging TV debate," Orlando Sentinel, 8/23/06)
On some key issues for Democrats...
Crist Sent a Letter to a Democrat Congressman Urging Him to Vote Against ObamaCare. "Dear Representative Meek: Media reports yesterday stated that President Obama has threatened not to campaign and raise money for Democrats who vote "no" on the health care legislation that is currently before Congress. The President's threat to snub Democrats who vote against this bill clearly demonstrates his priority of scoring political points rather than working to pass meaningful legislation. Instead of succumbing to the bullying and strong-arm tactics of your Party's leader, I urge you to ignore these threats and do what is in the best interest of the people of Florida by voting "no" on this bill. Floridians deserve quality health care with increased access and lower costs. What Floridians don't need is the current legislation that increases taxes, raises premiums and cuts Medicare that President Obama, Majority Leader Reid, and Speaker Pelosi are jamming through Congress. Again, put the people of Florida first - I urge you to vote "no" on the Democrat health care bill. Sincerely, Charlie Crist." (http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/crist-jumps-health-care-crunch-letter-rival-meek )
Crist "Cheerfully Signed" the Christian Coalition Petition Calling for a State Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage and Civil Unions. "A gushing crowd gathered to see Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist at Miami's Versailles restaurant on Thursday. Members of the local Christian Coalition chapter presented him with a petition calling for a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages and civil unions. Crist cheerfully signed. His office released petitions for the ballot initiative to the state Supreme Court for review on the same day." ("Crist popular on foe's turf," St. Petersburg Times, 9/4/05)
IMPORTANT - When speaking to the media about Charlie Crist's Obama endorsement, please remember that he wants us to accuse him of being a liberal. Calling him a liberal will only play into his hand. He hopes it will divert attention away from his record and his years of calling himself a Conservative. You should take every opportunity with the media to remind Floridians that Crist has made a career out of bashing the Democrat Party and everything President Obama stands for.
SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS
*Crist is a crass, political opportunist
*Despite the threat Florida is facing from a severe storm, Charlie Crist has demonstrated, yet again, that his political ambition will always come before the needs of Floridians.
*From his A+ rating from the NRA to abortion to same-sex marriage to civil unions to ObamaCare, Charlie Crist opposes President Obama on every one of the president's core issues.
*Crist said he doesn't agree with President Obama on hardly anything he does and Crist has spent his entire political career bashing the agenda Barack Obama advances.
*The only thing they have in common is that President Obama killed our national economy and Crist killed Florida's economy.
*In his time as Governor, Charlie Crist had unemployment increases in Florida greater than any other state except ONE - Florida's unemployment skyrocketed from 3.5% to 11.1%
*On abortion, Crist's position only makes an exception for the life of the mother, going further than Mitt Romney, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
*Crist didn't leave the Republican Party in 2010 because he disagreed with the party's beliefs and positions or suddenly became an Obama suppoter; he left because polls showed he had a better chance to win the Senate seat as an Independent.