Charlie Crist spent about four minutes on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today and made the most of each second.
Plugging his new book, “The Party’s Over,” Crist gave his standard spiel about how the Republican Party grew more extreme over time and how, culminating with his embrace of President Obama, he eventually became a Democrat who’s now running for his old job as governor. (My take on the book here).
The mere existence of the smooth-talking Crist deranges some Republicans. And Crist knows it. And he knows how to throw salt on the wound: Quote his predecessor, Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, about what’s happening to the GOP.
“Jeb Bush said it better than I can say it,” Crist said. “He said today’s Republican Party is perceived as being anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-gay couples, anti-environment, anti-education. I mean, pretty soon, there’s nobody left in the room.”
Bush didn’t exactly say that last year at CPAC. But it was close: "We're associated with being anti-everything. Way too many people believe that Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker. Many voters are simply unwilling to choose our candidates because those voters feel unloved, unwanted, and unwelcome in our party."
Crist is certainly unwelcome in the party, having left before he lost a GOP Senate primary to Marco Rubio in 2010 despite assurances that he’d remain a Republican.
Asked about his positions on immigration and gay marriage, Crist filibustered to tell the story of how his relatives came to the United States from Greece and Lebanon. He also mentioned that “I like the president supported, in the past, civil unions.”
True, in the past, Crist did support civil unions. But he also cast a vote against a type of civil union by voting in 2008 for Florida’s gay-marriage ban, which targets the “substantial equivalent” of marriage for same-sex couples.
Crist’s past reversals were too good for Gov. Rick Scott to pass up in the first paid TV ad of the cycle that featured past quotes from Democrats criticizing Crist as “an opportunist.”
That 30-second spot from Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, was featured on “Morning Joe” as an introduction. So it wasn’t the best way to start out of the gate.