(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist tells CNN he never endorsed President Obama's $787 billion stimulus measure, in what appears to be the latest effort by the Florida Republican to distance himself from the president as he seeks his party's Senate nomination.
"I didn't endorse it. I didn't even have a vote on the darned thing," Crist told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview Wednesday on The Situation Room. "But I understood that it was going to pass and I wanted to be able to utilize it for the benefit of my fellow Floridians."
The comments came a day after former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, Crist's conservative challenger for the GOP nomination, launched a Web site featuring a photograph of the governor appearing with President Obama at a Florida rally for the stimulus measure last February.
Text under the image reads, "Get the picture? Donate now to stand up for conservative principles."
Crist was one of only a handful of Republican governors to publicly extend some support to the president's $787 billion stimulus package – a move that rankled some conservatives in his home state and across the country.
Watch: Crist extends support for stimulus measure
In the interview with CNN, Crist called the move a "pragmatic" one given that the bill was certain to pass and his state stood to benefit from federal dollars.
"That was back in February, less than a month after the president was sworn into office, the first time he visits our state," Crist said. "And I was pragmatic, I think, about what we needed to do. Everybody knew the bill was going to pass."
"I, like all other Republican governors, utilized that money for the benefit of the people in my state. And that's what a pragmatic conservative does - a CEO, if you will, of a state does that," Crist also said.
But Crist appeared considerably more enthusiastic about the spending measure at the Florida rally on February 10 when he was introducing the president.
"It's getting harder every day, and we know that it's important that we pass this stimulus package," he said then with the president by his side. "It's important that we do so to help education, to help our infrastructure, and to help healthcare for those who need it most - the most vulnerable."
"This is not about partisan politics, this is about rising above that, helping America, and reigniting our economy," Crist also said then. (video below)
It's "far right" to point out Charlie Crist's support for the Obama stimulus? Only 2 out of 217 House and Senate GOP'ers voted for it.
Will Rubio put on the record that he doesn't want any Federal aid in the event of hurricanes?
Crist and Rubio,
And don't forget, when the oceans rise, most of your big cities will make New Orleans appear to be a cheap fix (if we ever do that!). You want us to let that pass also.
Or is this just another political "red meat" comment.
And we can have your part of the highway tax money and we will split all of your stimulus money 49 ways.
It is easy to be so righteous when you aren't the one having to make the difficult decisions.
Charlie Christ is a hypocrite and a liar. First of all, he needs to get out of the closet; those of us in this State were treated to his situation with a male lover (before he decided to do a 180 turn and marry a woman BEFORE the election) so we know that he is gay; for starters, he should own up to that fact and be honest with everyone; secondly, he has to come clean and stand by his comments in favor of President Obama's stimulus package, when he made them. It sickens me to see politicians lie so easily and treat the rest of us as if we were morons who don't read newspapers or are not aware of what is going on. They treat us their constituents as if we were all Sarah Palins, who can see Mexico from our houses.
What a shame that because of republican political ideology he's is incapable of admitting that taking the governments money was welcomed and was the right thing to do to help his state.
It's the same with health care reform – it's the right thing to do to help Americans, but because of the backward republican ideology their representatives have to vote against it.
What good is being elected if you're not representing the wants and needs of your constituents, but rather representing the interests of your political party. It's pathetic.
In light of all this, who do republicans actually represent these days? Themselves? The republican party? Whose interests are foremost? It surely doesn't appear to be "regular" Americans.
I seem to recall you Obamatrons bashing the few governors who did turn down the money as hurting their states to score political points. So which is it bozotrons? Is it better to be opposed but take the money, or be opposed and reject the money? Or is this too tough a question since it requires a definitive answer and you prefer to vote 'present'?
I am a conservative...but the criticism of Crist is ridiculous. He is conservative...but not an idealogue. We need more of him.
I love watching GOP "leaders" like Crist and Pawlenty bend over backwards to try and appease the right wing nutjobs and then have it thrown back in their faces!!!!!
Say it ain't so Charlie! Not you too. Another one of those GOP stimulus deniers who hypocritically run with the stimulus money but still put it down. Ugh!
I really thought this guy was the essence of what the GOP used to stand for. I guess he's just another tea bagger. Where are you GOP? What has happened to your party's principles?
I can see he's getting the Dede treatment, and he's responding.
I live in Florida and although I am a registered Independent, I admired Crist for his moderate views. But now he seems to be bowing down to the right-wing conservatives and it is quite sad. I thought he was "his own man." The other day when President Obama visited Florida, Crist initially told local TV that he didn't even know the President was in his State. Yaright....like we believe that. Then later he back-tracked and said he didn't know the President's schedule. I can't believe these right-wing nuts are intimidating good-hearted moderate Republicans.
You're doomed Christ! Rush won't allow you in his party of conservatives who only understand saddling the next generation with its bills.
The people of Florida will vote for Crist just to get him out of the state Crist for Martinez, talk about getting hosed. Niether was or is worth a phoney 2 dollar bill. The right wing nuts in florida deserve to have the worst politician ever [ hard to beat most GOP'ers]. He will be so junior he will have to clean toilets in his first term, and for sure he will screw that up. I do not know where these red necks in florida come up with these white haired Hate mongering Bigots along the Bible Belt but they seem to find the bottom of the barrell here in Florida.
Crist took stimulus money and participated in Obama's socialist programs. He is a RINO! Throw him out of the party.
" Oh no, I never really supported the stimulus even though I was glad to take a big chunk of it. Now I would never support such a thing, ........... oh, there might be another round of stimulus?............UUUUhhhhh I guess I did support it after all.......I think, but maybe not, or did I?"
Yeah that's about typical.
I recall an editorial by Michael Steele a few months ago on this very site that chastised Obama for supporting an expensive "turtle tunnel" underneath a Florida highway. Steele said Obama "supported" the tunnel because stimulus money was used to build it. In fact, the STATES decide how to spend the money, and Crist and the Florida legislature were the ones who decided to spend that money on the tunnel. If the "turtle tunnel" was an important "education/infrastructure/healthcare" initiative, Gov. Crist should own it.
Gov. Crist is just doing his usual soft shoe.. dance to the right, dance to the left. His primary overriding and only real concern is his next election, which is usually for a new position... instead of sticking around dealing with the mess he is making as govenor.
He just will not or cannot "man up" to what he said because he might lose a vote from the fringe, or the left, no wait, the right, the far right, or the middle... whatever audience he is talking to.
By the way, don't politicians realize that everything is recorded and can be played back? I don't know about the rest of you but I am real tired of politicians talking down to us, like we are too dense to understand their deep thinking. Hey, we get it, you want to be elected, and reelected.