This item has been updated.
Former Republican Florida governor Charlie Crist, writing in Sunday’s Tampa Bay Times, endorsed President Obama, calling him “the right leader for our state and the nation.”
The Associated Press is reporting that Crist has been added as a speaker at the Democratic National Convention next week in Charlotte.
Crist lost a bid for the Senate two years ago to tea party favorite Marco Rubio in a bitter battle that divided the state’s Republican Party. The moderate Republican ran as an independent in the general election after polls showed him losing the GOP primary to Rubio.
In his endorsement, Crist continued to criticize what he says is a Republican Party “pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they’ve proven incapable of governing for the people.”
Crist also brought up last week’s GOP crisis over comments made by Senate candidate Todd Akin (Mo.) about rape and abortion: “Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims.”
A draft of the platform calls for a constitutional amendment protecting human life, but includes no specific language about exceptions for victims of rape.
Read Crist’s full op-ed piece here. His endorsement of the president comes on the eve of the GOP’s nominating convention, the logistics of which have been complicated by Tropical Storm Isaac.
Florida Republican Party Chairman Lenny Curry called Crist’s endorsement “a repugnant display from a self-centered, career politician.” In a press release, he also pointed out past instances in which Crist disagreed with Obama’s policies.
And Curry invoked the crisis facing the GOP this week in criticizing the former governor: ”For Crist to pull this Obama stunt while Florida faces a hurricane only proves Charlie Crist cares about just one thing: Charlie Crist.”