(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)
Guess he realized the direction of Obama's influence....
BTW, it sure is not upward.
BUT he did accept stimulus funds, just like a bunch of his Republican colleagues. AND the people of Florida benefited from it.
Silly Charlie, don't back peddle now! Don't be fooled by the stoooooopid Palin far right faction!!!!!
I guess he saw what affect that sucking up to Obama got other Gov want to be's on Tuesday.
Obama seems like a really nice guy, but he does not live in the real world. To protected all his life to relate to Americans.
Time for everyone to start backing away from supporting any of Obamas agendas..............they are bad news. Pay attention Blue Dogs or you're next to be voted out. We need Boxer to get voted out in Bankrupt California, we can't afford her and her wacky ideas. Nutty San Francisco needs to vote out Nancy Botoxi, but they are way left wing nuts there.
Good for CNN, Crist should be held accountable for the stands that he took. Let's try to do the same for liberal Democrats. They need accountability as well.
Republicans are shameless... Disgusting...
Typcial GOP hypocrit. I supported it but now I don't because I'm running for re-election.
Oh, the ol' "everyone-else-was-doing-it defense." What a gutless wind-sock of a human being. He's basically admitting that he has absolutely no principles and he will do and say anything that will bring money into his state (and a re-election into his future). This guy is a perfect example of what is wrong with the republican party.......democrats pretending to be republicans.
HEY CHARLIE, MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING. THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED PRINCIPLES......or atleast there used to be.
My god, Does Crist think that we are stupid. He pushed for the stimulus package and has used the money to balance the states budget and brags about it. now that he has a right wing nut as a primay challenger he speaks on the other side of his mouth. I guess this make Charlie nothing but a lying "Queen"
Oh those horrible Republicans....they don't have conservative values. Palin/Fat boy/etc are splitting the party in two. Either you follow Oxycotin boys' "Mein Kampf" and pledge alliegance to his bloated body (and ego) or you are out.
Recall that the $700 billion stimulus plan was signed by George W. Bush in the Fall 2008. Although Obama supported a stimulus plan, many Democrats did not. Who is right and who is wrong may never be known. Deregulation, 2 wars, excessive borrowing and spending for 8 years put us into a huge hole. The bailouts were terrible but I don't know what would have happened had they not been done. Paulson could have done a better job of requiring accountability for the bailout funds but that's water under the bridge. We have to move forward but try to learn from those mistakes. We need intelligent regulation that will control greed without inhibiting growth.
Crist and his ilk remind you of the old Mark Twain saying that if you take a dog in from the cold, put in in front of the fire place and feed him, he'll never bite your hand. That's the main difference between a dog and men.
Palin's cult members will get him too - or try to.
What exactly did Crist do wrong?
Liberals are incredible with their logic, or more accurately, their lack thereof.
Like most GOP governors, Crist was entirely against the stimulus as a principle. But given that it was absolutely going to pass, because of the vast majority of Dems in both houses, why shouldn't he best represent the people of Florida and accept it?
Liberals (at least the ones that post comments here) never truthfully examine motivations at all, they blindly hate. All of these "why do they accept the stimulus money now!" comments prove the commenter to be profoundly ignorant to the choices the governor has.
That's it Charlie. Forget about principles. Forget about what it means to be a good republican (fiscal responsibility). All that matters is getting your hands on those federal dollars and getting yourself electected. Whoever can help you with that is whose side you are on.
This gutless little RINO needs to be eradicated from the republican party. If he's going to act like a democrat, he should do the honest thing and declare himself as one.
Well, look on the brightside... when conservative voters come out in droves in 2010 to offset the Democrat Dead Voter Brigade, and Crist is booted from office, maybe his big spending buddy in the Oval office will give him a czar job, no?
When will you economically illiterate liberals get it through your head that the GOVERNMENT HAS NO MONEY OF ITS OWN!
The government cannot give away ANY MONEY to ANYBODY without first having to confiscate it at gunpoint from a citizen.
That is why ANY "stimulus" spending is bogus... stealing a dollar from my wallet and then handing me back 45 cents worth of "stimulus" does not create wealth, rather it is simply the lifeblood for government bureaucracy.
What a worm this guy is. Of course, he had to distance himself from the President. He wants the campaign money from the Republicans and does not want what happened to Dede Scozzafava in Ny – 23 race to happen to him. Now, he found his conservative principles.
Crist should stand up for what he believes is best for the people he represents. That he's joined other establishment Republicans in desperately trying to placate their volatile base has caused me to lose whatever respect I had for him.
He's basically pulling a McCain.
This will be interesting as only obstructionist and isolationist GOP candidates get the conservative nod. While many are expecting the typical backlash to the party in power, this will likely mitigate the impact. A majority of GOP and independent voters may be conservative, but do they represent a majority of the electorate – debatable. And there are negative associations too, that have not been addressed very well in the conservative movement.
Crist stand up to the republicans dont be scared to speak the true
The concervatives are trying to destroy you and Florida knows what best for there states.
You are going down the wrong road. Americans in the middle want to see politicians that will work with the POTUS and get things done.
Rubio is a hero for Hispanic Republicans and Conservatives alike.
Crist should step away!
Go for it, Republicans. Keep nominating extremists and you will go down in flames. You are attacking one of the most able moderate Governors in the country. But then again, you are from the "pup tent" school of governance. It is always more fun for you to spend your time flaming people in online blogs than actually doing something usefule.
No.No..I didn't sign that thing that helped the people..
No..I did not....because I am a heartless Republican!!