Charlie Crist defends party switch

December 10, 2012

Former Florida governor Charlie Crist explained his decision to become a Democrat in an interview on MSNBC's "Hardball" Monday. 

"I'm a live and let live kind of guy," Crist told host Chris Matthews. "The Democratic party is where I am much more comfortable." The current Republican party, he argued, is not very compassionate or tolerant, and "middle of the road, commonsense Republicans" are a dying breed. 

Crist became an independent in 2010, seeing that after his embrace of President Obama would almost certainly lose the Republican Senate primary to former state House speaker Marco Rubio. The governor lost to Rubio anyway, in a three-way general election that included then-Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.).

This past weekend, as he mulls another run for governor in 2014, Crist officially became a Democrat. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, the new chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, praised Crist over the weekend as "high on the list" of potential candidates to take on Gov. Rick Scott (R). 

The former governor told MSNBC he was comfortable with Democratic orthodoxy but dodged most questions on specific issues, instead invoking political giants of the past. In the brief interview he referenced former Florida Sen. Bob Graham, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · December 10, 2012