Crist's Journey of Self-Discovery: 'I'm So Much More Comfortable As a Democrat'
Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now running for Florida's top office again yet as a Democrat, said that's who he was all along.
Crist, who became an independent while trying to win the Senate nomination with Marco Rubio as the GOP favorite, became a Democrat in December.
"I worked with Democrats, Republicans, independents -- anybody who would help us in Florida -- and do what we needed to do to help education, to help our environment, to have good ethics. And I thought we really had a spirit and a tone of cooperation in our administration in that time in Tallahassee. And, quite frankly, I thought that we needed to have that in Washington, D.C., so I ran for the U.S. Senate for Florida. It didn't work out, and that's OK. And here we are now," Crist said today on MSNBC.
"But I really thought that the tone of cooperation is something that I could bring, at least in some small degree, to Washington, D.C., and I guess I was pretty right. It's, unfortunately, rather dysfunctional, as we all know."
Asked why Democrats should put faith in a serial party-switcher, Crist said, "Because it's really who I am."
"I've had friends all my life tell me, 'You know, Charlie, you're really a Democrat and you just don't know it.' And now, I think I know it. I mean, you know, when I was a young state senator... back in the early '90s, I was the only Republican that was on the Health Care Committee. I voted against a 24-hour waiting period for women who wanted to get an abortion because I just didn't think it was right to impose our will on somebody else and a woman's important decision about what she wants to do with her own body."
"Another example when I was in the state Senate: I fought to protect the environment. I actually sponsored a bill that would put prop guards on outboard motors to protect manatees. I mean, this stuff is really not new to me. It's really things that I've always cared about, always believed were right. And it's really been more about what's right and wrong, rather than what's left or right. And that's who Charlie Crist is. It's who I am."
Crist said the Democratic Party is "where I feel most comfortable."
"Look at the Republicans. I think Jeb Bush said it very well not long ago. He said, 'When your party is perceived as being anti- women, anti-gay, anti-minority, you know, pretty soon, the room's empty.' And, you know, that kind of intolerant attitude, at least by the leadership in the Republican Party -- I mean, my mom and dad are still Republicans, and they're very good, decent people, and a lot of Republicans are. But the leadership of the party...has just gone in a direction that's -- that's out of control. And I just didn't feel comfortable there anymore," he continued.
"I mean, the way my mom and dad raised my three sisters and me was to be decent to other people, be kind to people, be compassionate. And I just don't see that in today's Republican leadership, and that's why I'm so much more comfortable as a Democrat -- a true Democrat."