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Saturday, December 10, 2016

To become the next governor of Florida, Charlie Crist needs to do everything he can to convince Democrats that he’s truly one of them, while reassuring Republicans that he’s still the same moderate he’s always been. That’s just politics. But no matter how persuasive he is, Crist can’t totally hide from his Republican past.

A conservative group is now taking advantage of Crist’s history, by sending a robocall to voters featuring Crist spouting some not-so-liberal views.

“Hi, this is Charlie Crist calling to set the record straight. I’m pro-life. I oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, I support traditional marriage, and I have never supported a new tax or big spending program. It’s sad that in his fourth try for governor my opponent has resorted to distortions and untruths,” he says in the recording. “Floridians need a consistent, conservative governor that they can trust. I would appreciate your vote on Election Day.”

As the Miami Herald reports, the call was sponsored by a political committee called The Conservatives. The recording is of Crist in 2006, when he was running in the Republican primary for governor. His opponent, Tom Gallagher, accused him of being a moderate, so Crist — like the true politician he is — reassured voters that he was a far-right conservative. Ironically, he also criticized Gallagher at the time for flip-flopping on his positions.

“Talking about being a conservative after a political lifetime of liberalism just isn’t believeable,” he said of his opponent.

Now Republicans are using the same argument against Crist, whose campaign for governor as a Democrat looks very different from the 2006 edition.

“It’s hard to believe that someone can go from a Ronald Reagan Republican to a Barack Obama liberal in a short period of time. It’s pretty dramatic,” Crist’s opponent, Republican governor Rick Scott, said in an AP interview.

Democrats won’t necessarily believe that the robocall actually features Crist’s voice, or that it represents his current beliefs. All voters have to do is look at Crist’s website to see that he explicitly disagrees with everything he said back when he was running as a Republican. His website accuses Scott of being “anti-choice,” states that Florida needs to support its DREAMers, and that “all Floridians should be able to marry the person they love.”

The Crist campaign views this robocall as a “shady voter suppression tactic.”

“Republicans are so desperate they’re not even bothering to cover their tracks: They’re targeting Democratic primary voters with a robocall that’s nearly a decade old, hoping to fool them into thinking it’s new,” spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said. “Republicans are running scared — so they’re trying to suppress the vote. But it won’t work.”

Crist and Scott are still essentially tied in the polls, with the Real Clear Politics poll average showing Scott ahead by only 0.8 percent.

Photo: Mike Cohen via Flickr

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