The biggest Florida speaker at the Democratic National Convention wasn’t a Democrat.
After former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist’s speech Thursday night, it’s only a matter of time before he officially joins the party’s ranks in a slow march to running for governor in two years.
Crist’s high-profile role pained many Florida delegates, but it furthered President Obama’s message – that the Republican Party is too extreme.
“As a former lifelong Republican, it pains me to tell you that today's Republicans—and their standard-bearers, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan—just aren't up to the task,” Crist said. “They're beholden to “my way or the highway” bullies, indebted to billionaires who bankroll ads and allergic to the very idea of compromise.”
Crist’s speech was as much a condemnation of today’s Republican Party as it was an explanation of why he’s officially moving toward the Democratic Party and away from the conservative positions he once espoused.
Republicans and many Democrats alike won’t let Crist forget he campaigned for years as a pro-life, anti-gay marriage, gun-touting “Reagan Republican” and “Jeb Bush Republican.” In 2010, in his unsuccessful Senate bid, he bashed Obama’s agenda and ran as a “true conservative.”
“Is he here, and in this for his principles?” asked Democratic delegate Bob Hartnett of Orlando. “I’ve got a long time to think about that. But there are many others in this party qualified to lead and be onstage representing our people.”