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Sunday, October 23, 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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  • Dominick Vila

    I live in Florida, where the airwaves are dominated by charges and
    counter charges from both sides. Scott’s strategy is to accuse Charlie
    Crist of embracing Republican values when he was in office, and before
    he decided to switch party affiliation. Crist’s strategy focuses on
    highlighting the effects of Rick Scott’s Republican policies. The
    choice for us is choosing between a Tea Party zealot with a record that
    should have sent him straight to jail instead of to Tallahassee, and an
    ex-Republican lite Governor. I can’t say I am too excited about voting this year, but I will do it because the alternative is worse than the hand we have been dealt.

    • midway54

      Absolutely: The huge difference is precisely why Crist should beat this disgusting cipher who serves the plutocrats, a class of which he is a solid member. Florida teabagger and redneck crazies put him, Allen West and Rubio in office. West was gone after just one term, and now is in the place where he surely belongs: Fox “News. Scott needs to go, and certainly Rubio, an opportunistic hack, in 2016.

  • Patricia Houghtalen

    I am a Democrat who received that recycled call from the Republican Party which is suppose to shock me that Crist said these things back in 2006 when he run for Governor. Well I already knew all this, we Democrats are well aware of the fact that he was a Republican and that he was elected as a Republican back then. When in office he was a very moderate Conservative and I am sure he will be a moderate Liberal in office this time and able to work with both sides of the aisle. The problem we have in Florida is there are just too many radical toxic Republicans on the one side of the aisle and we need to begin changing that if we want Florida to make a progressive style growth over the next 8 years instead of a decline back to the graft ridden regressive past that this current GOP led legislature has us on. So this call was just wasted money and time and also very annoying thing to receive. The voice in the end who names the obscure organization fronting for the GOP has enough vindictive sound to it that you know this was a call meant to do harm and not good. Unfortunately for the Republicans most people will listen to the call and say okay. It will not in anyway effect more then 2% of those hearing it as far as how they will vote. Rick Scott’s record is offensive enough and new dirt come out everyday and his persistence in refusing to answer questions is what is making the deepest impact on people and not a 7 year old tape.

  • ExRadioGuy15

    There’s a big problem with the GOP’s strategy against Crist: those who possess intelligence and sanity will and do recognize that both parties have gone to the right, so, today’s Democrats are yesterday’s GOP Progressives and Moderates…..the Florida GOP hopes people are too stupid to realize that. If you vote Republican, you prove the Florida GOP correct; if you vote Democrat, you understand what the GOP has tried to do.
    I guess we’ll find out this fall how smart Floridians really are….

  • johninPCFL

    Perhaps the Democrats should begin running robo-calls from Reagan, back when he was a union organizer. Or maybe from when he did videos decrying how Medicare was the downfall of the USA and sure to lead to its demise within a generation.

    • ExRadioGuy15

      LOL…the Democrats could use a lot of the words from the GOP against them…now, if they only had the spine to do it…

  • Allan Richardson

    There is a difference between making a thoughtful change in one’s opinions on the basis of new, or previously ignored, FACTS, and just flip flopping to appeal to a different set of voters. The latter usually occurs too QUICKLY to be believable, and in conjunction with an election, while the former usually is more gradual, as happened with the late George Wallace (after his political career was over).

    I first met Gov. Crist in St. Petersburg when he was running for re-election to the state Senate, doing his own yard signs and canvassing. My wife and I were taking a walk, and we had an open dialog with him. Although he had gained a reputation as a tough on crime “Chain Gang Charlie,” we learned that his conservative principles were reasonable ones, not nearly as extreme as most Republican held, even then. When he became Governor, I was not happy that my Democratic pick lost, but he did govern as a moderate, even to the point of taking executive action to restore voting rights to former felons more easily. All in all, he was a reasonably good governor for citizens of both parties. When he was replaced by Rick Scott, it was said that Scott’s most positive accomplishment was making Democrats MISS Charlie Crist! And among his negative accomplishments was quashing the initiative to approve voting rights restoration.

    So did Charlie Crist turn into Howard Dean or Hubert Humphrey? Of course not; but as he told everybody on the occasions of both phases of his switch, he could no longer tolerate a Republican party that made Nixon and Reagan (the real one) look like liberals. If I still lived in Florida, I would definitely vote for him, partly for partisan ideological reasons, but mostly for ETHICAL reasons (especially since unethical actions seem to have become POSITIVES for Republicans, if it helps THEIR side).