Before former Gov. Charlie Crist rallied the crowd at President Barack Obama’s final Florida rally on Sunday, he made a guest appearance on CBS4’s Facing South Florida with Jim Defede and did some politicking of his own.
Crist covered the famous hug that first got him in trouble with Republicans, the “unconscionable” decision by Gov. Rick Scott not to extend early voting hours, and his future political plans.
Crist laughed when Defede said his
first encounter with Obama was a “hug heard around the world” and recalled how he also
“got a lot of grief from Republicans” when he extended early voting hours in 2008.
“But when you’re governor, you don’t just work for one party or the other you work for the people of the state,’’ Crist said. “I saw the long lines. I saw it was still hot in South Florida, that a lot of senior citizens were waiting in those lines, and I realized it was an emergency situation and people needed to have the opportunity to vote.
“The same thing happened under Gov. Jeb Bush and he extended early voting as well,’’ he said.
“To me it’s just a responsibility and obligation. This is a precious right. It’s a cherished right that people have fought and died for and the notion that you would try to suppress that, and reduce the opportunity for the right to vote whether they vote Republican or Democrat or independent is just unconscionable to me.”
In classic Crist fashion, he refused to directly lay blame on Scott for suppressing the vote but he implied it.
“When you go from 14 days of early voting to 8. When you reduce the number of hours from 120 to about 96, it’s hard to look at it another way,’’ Crist said. I think the people of Florida and this country expect early voting.”
He mentioned that he was campaigning in Ohio Saturday with Sen. John Kerry and Gen. Wesley Clark, he noted that Ohio has early voting and the opportunity for “Souls to the Polls” today but Florida doesn’t.
“The notion that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to do that this Sunday before Election Day is just unconscionable,’’ he said.
Defede asked Crist if Scott has earned a second term.
“I don’t think we know and I think that’s up to the people of Florida,’’ Crist answered.
Crist again denied he’s on a trajectory to run against Scott as a Democrat or independent, but didn’t rule it out.
“I have no plan to do that but, who knows what the future holds,’’ he said. “My political plan right now is to work as hard as I can in the next 48 hours to re-elect Barack Obama and Sen. Nelson and have good representation for the people,” he said.
Isn’t Crist just positioning himself for something?
Crist laughs. “It’s been an opportunity over the past couple of months to get my head bashed in for standing up and doing what I think is right, and for standing up for the principles that I think are important,’’ he said.
Crist was asked for a prediction and he offered up the predictable answer: he thought Obama would win Florida.
Defede reminded the former governor that he predicted McCain would win in 2008 too.
“You don’t always get it right but I thnk it worked out well for the country,’’ Crist said. “I really do.”