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2 posts from May 11, 2014

May 11, 2014

From 'Chain Gang Charlie' to Changeling Charlie, Crist stays ahead of political flip flops

@MarcACaputo

“Chain Gang Charlie” Crist once loved that nickname; it showed he was tough on crime.

That, however, was before Crist left the Republican Party. Before he was an independent. Before he became a Democrat, a party with a significant number of black voters more apt to be troubled by images of shackled labor.

Over the years, along with his party-affiliation changes, Crist’s policy positions have zigzagged, flipped and whirled. He’s no longer Chain Gang Charlie.

Now, as ever, he’s Changeling Charlie.

Last week, the frontrunner for governor hit the trifecta of metamorphosis on three consecutive days — reinventing positions on his own reinventions (Monday), race in the GOP (Tuesday) and Cuba travel (Wednesday).

Conventional wisdom holds that modern-day party-switchers are doomed. Yet Crist leads longtime Democrat Nan Rich and Republican Gov. Rick Scott in polls.

That popularity — coupled with inflammatory rhetoric and a knack for stealing headlines and TV-news broadcast time — outrages many Republicans nowadays.

Crist’s high approval ratings are partly rooted in an irony: His reversals are consistent. Crist invariably moves toward popular positions, making many voters feel as if he’s on their side. That also enables him to contrast his penchant for bending to popular will with what he implies is the rigid ideology of Scott and GOP hardliners.

“If you take in new data, and new circumstances, and you don’t modify, you’re a fool,” Crist said. “And if you have new data or new attitudes and new experiences and open your eyes to a different point of view, then an enlightened man or woman does so.”

Column here

No, Marco Rubio didn't quite deny climate-change. At least not yet

@MarcACaputo

The question, put by ABC's Jonathan Karl, was straightforward: "Let me get this straight: You do not think that human activity – the production of CO2 – has caused warming to our planet."

But Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t give a straightforward answer to the yes-or-no question.

“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying,” Rubio said on This Week. “And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy.”

So Rubio’s not saying he doesn’t believe in man-made climate change, but he’s disputing “the way these scientists are portraying” it. 

Karl, in closing his “This Week” profile of Rubio, didn’t follow up by asking whether that was a yes or a no. And he attributed Rubio’s presidential ambitions to “talk like that that Rubio hopes will appeal to the conservatives he’d need to win the conservative nomination.”

Sure. But make no mistake, Rubio has long flirted with climate-change denialism. Rubio has been giving climate-change “talk like that” since at least 2007. On Aug. 25 of that year, then-Florida House Speaker Rubio penned a Miami Herald op-ed that bashed then-Gov. Charlie Crist’s cap-and-trade climate-change plans as “European-style big government mandates” that could have “negative consequences.”

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