Charlie Crist Says Obama "Saved Florida": Republicans Fume, Democrats Shrug

Last night, Charlie Crist completed his nasty two-year break-up with conservatives. When he strolled onto the DNC set in Charlotte, the Republican establishment he once belonged to collectively winced. Then it watched the former Florida governor openly praise President Barack Obama.

"But even as the Republican Party fought tooth and nail to stop him, this president showed his courage, invested in America -- and saved Florida," Crist said in his speech.

Democrats applauded politely, unsure who, exactly, this Gregory Peck lookalike was and why he kept mentioning Ronald Reagan. Republicans, on the other hand, were quick to call Crist an opportunistic little shit.

Crist left the GOP in 2010 during his campaign for U.S. Senate, running as an independent. He eventually lost to Republican and Tea Party golden boy Marco Rubio.

In his short speech last night, Crist tried to paint a contrast between Obama as a non-partisan get-shit-doner and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who "just aren't up to the task."

"They're beholden to 'my way or the highway' bullies, indebted to billionaires who bankroll ads and allergic to the very idea of compromise," Crist said.

He said he didn't agree with Obama on everything, but praised him for helping Florida survive two crises: the economic downturn and the BP oil spill.

"When he took office, the economic crisis had already put my state of Florida on the edge of disaster. The foreclosure crisis was consuming homeowners, the tourists we depend on couldn't afford to visit and our vital construction industry had come to a standstill," Crist said in a speech that will surely soon be spliced into TV ads aired across the Sunshine State. "President Obama saw what I saw: a catastrophe in the making. And he took action."

But Crist's former conservative buddies were quick to poo on his special moment.

"Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist gave Republicans another reason to despise him on Thursday night by rallying support for President Barack Obama," wrote the Wall Street Journal. Last week, an op-ed in the same paper argued: "After all, Mr. Crist's middle name is 'opportunism' -- and right now he sniffs potential in the Democratic Party."

GOP officials were also quick to attack Crist for his appearance.

"The line that stood out to me was when he said the Republican Party left him," Florida GOP chairman Lenny Curry told Politico after the speech. "That's a lie. Charlie Crist left the Republican Party because he knew he couldn't win an election for U.S. Senate. That's the most glaring thing we heard tonight."

Democrats, meanwhile, don't seem to care too much about Crist's conversion. A recent poll found that 56 percent welcomed his decision, but predicted he would do no better against current GOP governor Rick Scott than any "generic Democrat."

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.

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