Crist: Everything About GOP Was 'Counter to My Values'

New Democrat Charlie Crist said last night on CNN that in his eyes the GOP "seem to get more strident and more difficult, if you will, less tolerant, less welcoming, whether it was immigration or education or voter suppression that we saw recently."

The former Florida governor left the Republican Party in 2010 to run for the Senate seat won by Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and spoke at this year's Democratic National Convention, but just Friday announced he's a Democrat.

"Each and every one of these issues really was counter to my values, that my mother and father raised me on and the kind of ethic that I believe in, that we should be a tolerant people, a welcoming people, and try to have a big tent as a party rather than try to shrink things," he said.

Crist said his parents are still Republicans, and are "happy about" his defection.

"My father is the son of a Greek immigrant. My mother's family immigrated from Ireland. And we are a nation of immigrants, as you know, you being one, I assume," he said to Piers Morgan. "And because of that, I think the tolerance that we should have as a nation doesn't stand for deportation. And in education, it doesn't stand for lessening the funding of public education."

"And when it comes to voter suppression, it doesn't stand for denying people the right to vote. They should have that opportunity. They should be able to exercise it. They should not have to stand in long lines," Crist continued. "And Republican officials across the country made it hard for people to vote."

Crist is currently working for the personal injury law firm Morgan & Morgan.

He also gushed about President Obama when asked about his optimism on fiscal cliff negotiations.

"I have had the opportunity to get to know President Obama. I think he is a wonderful leader. And I think he leads with grace, which is most important for a situation like this, where you have mutual respect," Crist said. "...And I know it's the right thing for America to reach a deal, to work together, to be willing to compromise, and do what is right for the people instead of a party first. That's what America wants."