Former Gov. Charlie Crist, president Barack Obama’s most unexpected cheerleader in Florida this election cycle, rallied a crowd of 23,000 at the McArthur High School Football Field in Hollywood with a verbal hug that mirrored the physical one that got him in trouble with his former party.
“Hello Broward!,’’ Crist exclaimed. “Are you fired up? Ready to go? I love Barack Obama.”
Crist, who left the Republican Party in the midst of the primary for U.S. Senate in 2010, was excoriated by Republicans for welcoming the president at an event in Fort Myers in 2009, symbolically embracing the federal stimulus money coming to Florida.
Crist recalled the moment in his speech to the crowd before Obama arrived and used the message to revive some classic Crist themes: bi-partisan cooperation.
“The president came here to help us,’’ he said. “One man got it done. President Barack Obama.”
He then cited the Gulf oil spill, “Florida’s most serious environmental disaster in history and our country. Guess who came back to help us again? Obama,’’ he said. “He was here day after day after day, just as he was kind enough to do for Gov. Christie.
“He didn’t care at the time I was a Republican. He didn’t care this time Gov Christie was a Republican.
“He tried to do something else for Florida. He tried to give us a bullet train, a high speed rail,’’ he said, mentioning the federal projects vetoed and federal by his successor, Gov. Rick Scott.
“My friends, this campaign – listen to me – is about optimism,’’ he said. “The other guys are pessimists.”
Crist then led the crowd in a chant, yelling “up” for positive developetnts such as equal pay, the auto industry and bringing the troops home and yelling “down” to “blaming teachers and “discrimination.”
Crist ended his cheer with a conclusion. “Ladies and gentlemen, this guy’s got our back. …. He is a man with a great heart, with great compassion and the strength of ten men. Now it’s all about voting…
“We got to make sure we get that done,’’ Crist said. “If the lines are long on Election Day don’t worry about it. Pack a sandwich….Don’t let anybody suppress your vote. The country is at stake. And Florida could determine it.”
Photo credit: democrats.org
-- Amy Sherman and Mary Ellen Klas