The Corner

Charlie Crist’s Constant: An Always-Changing Story

Over the weekend, Florida Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist revealed that he now supports ending the trade embargo against Cuba, an about-face from the stance he took when he was governor of the Sunshine State.

After switching parties from Republican to independent midway through the 2010 Florida senate race, then-governor Crist went on to endorse President Obama in 2012 as part of his transition to the Democratic Party. Now, with Crist running for governor again against Republican Rick Scott, both Republicans and Democrats aren’t sure what to make of Crist.  Ads from Republicans are attacking Crist for his flip-flops featuring critical comments from national and state Democrats, while his Democratic primary opponent Nan Rich isn’t pulling any punches either. “He has reversed his positions,” Rich said, “I find it hard to believe that people have trust (in you) when you change all of your positions.”

Scott, Rich, and Floridians around the state are seeing, once again, that each new Crist campaign seems to bring a handful of new Crist positions. For those trying to keep track of where he lands in this most current race, here’s what Crist is running on… for now:

‐Cuba embargo: On Friday, while sitting on the Real Time with Bill Maher panel, Crist said the trade embargo “has done nothing in more than fifty years.” But Crist explicitly supported the sanctions during his time as an independent candidate in 2010, calling the current policy “responsible.”

‐​Same-sex marriage: In 2008, Crist supported Amendment 2, a ballot initiative to amend Florida’s constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Last year, six months before announcing he would run for governor again, he said he “most certainly” support legally recognizing same-sex marriages in Florida, followed by an apology and plea for forgiveness last month. PolitiFact gave Crist a “full flop.”

‐Abortion: Since he first ran for Senate in 1998, Crist has gone back and forth on whether he is pro-life or pro-choice in different campaigns. After first identifying as a pro-choice Republican in his failed Senate run 16 years ago, Crist ran for governor in 2006 on a pro-life platform. His pro-life language suddenly disappeared from his campaign’s website when he left the Republican party and became an independent in 2010. Nonetheless, in his recent book, he still described himself as “pro-life,” albeit with a different definition: “Personally, I have always been pro-life… I believe life is precious and should be treasured. I like being alive.”

‐​Gun rights: During his initial campaigns, Crist slammed his Republican primary opponents for being too soft on guns. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Crist would tout his NRA endorsements, expand where concealed-weapon permit holders could bring guns, and nominate gun-rights supporters to key positions, including the state’s Supreme Court; he even criticized Marco Rubio during their 2010 Senate primary fight for supporting a Florida law that required background checks and a waiting period. But, in December 2012, as Democrats ramped up their support for gun-control legislation, Crist called for the renewal of the assault weapons ban and limiting ammunition.

Voter fraud prevention: Despite opposition from the NAACP, League of Women Voters, and others, Crist signed in to law Florida’s “no match, no vote” policy as governor in 2008, which required residents’ driver license and Social Security numbers to match up with the state’s voter rolls. As a Democrat, Crist has called legislation to prevent voter fraud, including Scott’s efforts to check voter rolls for noncitizens, a “bad idea” and “a mockery of the democracy we put on display every Election Day.”

‐​Healthcare: In 2010, running in a year with strong Republican momentum, Crist joined the chorus of Obamacare opponents, labeling it “too big, too expensive.” Crist said it “expanded the role of government far too much.” Two years later, he endorsed President Obama. A year after that, he can’t imagine life without it and says we needed it all along. “It’s the right thing to do. Our country needed to do it. I’m glad he did it. I’m glad we have it, and it’ll continue to improve, I believe,” he said in 2013.

Minimum wage: Towards the end of last year, Crist said he was “disappointed” in Scott for not increasing the minimum wage in Florida’s most recent legislative session. “Unfortunately, Rick Scott just doesn’t seem to get it,” he wrote in an op-ed. Crist seemingly didn’t get it either in 2004 when he too opposed increasing the minimum wage.

Marijuana: In the same 1998 questionnaire, Crist did not show support when asked if he supported the decriminalization of marijuana for medical reasons. Just last week though, Crist said he will vote for a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana, calling it an “issue of compassion” for those who need it.


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