(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)
Spineless hypocrite speaking with a forked-tongue.
Evidently politicians only feel comfortable with people of their ilk: liars, thieves, adulterers, drunks, drug-users, corrupt, quitters, on the take, or on the down low. To stand next to another politician that no one can attribute any of these characteristics to, i.e. Obama, makes them crap their pants, and shun him. We the citizens of this country that elected our President are quite proud at finally having someone in the White House that is NOT plagued by any of these character flaws.
Go take a hike Crist.
Sounds like he supported it to me. Caught in a lie, how stupid does Crist think people are?
Where are the jobs?
Any Obama supporters want to answer that one?
He should stand up and say he supported it along with practically every reputable economist on both sides of the isle. Most economists think it may have been too small. The recovery act was needed and politician need to be honest and stop playing politics.
Can You Say Flip Flopper, Kameleon, Or Forgetful Jones. If You Can, Then You've Just Found Out Gov. Charlie "Cheddar-Bacon" Crist's Alter Ego.
Typical politician speaking out of both sides of their mouth. We need a strong 3rd party to keep the other two in check.
These republicans are crazy. What's wrong with any governor, wanting what's best for his or her state. Get a life republicans.
I'm curious, Crist, how did the stimulus money that you took work out for you and your state?
Another Totally Confused Moron from Florida. I am not at all surprised.
Is Charlie getting ready for a "Conservative Party" challenge to his senate run, perhaps?
You know its really sad that Chris even has to defend himself against those who thinks it was a political sin for him back the stimilus. These Republicans...something is wrong with some of them.
The Republican party needs consistent and principled leaders. Crist is obviously not one of them. It will be interesting to see how liberals react to this Republican revamping. They have been working to label it a "fringe" takeover. I'm not so sure that a conservative position should be labeled "fringe" since most Americans now days consider themselves conservative.
Crist is a liar. Doesn't he realize that the invention on the 'Internets' can prove him a shameless liar? Rubio will use this to get the 'Tea Baggers' riled up in the Primary. Ergo, the Righties will lose again.
Looks like the NY23 race scared the bejeezus out of him. Now he's gonna pander to the right wing nuts so that he doesn't get purged from the party of nope. Have a nice day!
"Crist was one of only a handful of Republican governors to publicly extend some support to the president's $787 billion stimulus package"
So there are only a handful of smart Republican governors?
That's not news!
Go ahead and return the money... acceptance is as good as an endorsement.
Republicans are such hypocrites. I sincerely feel bad for Crist. I think they are going to ram-road this guy, who aparently seems to have more sense than those in his very party. I guess the Republican party sincerely does not want moderates right now. They are trying to have a strong party and the way to do it, is it get rid of the moderates.
This is going to carry on in the future of the party and people with moderate views might as well re-group and form another party or become Independents. It's really sad how Conservatives in this country operate. It's getting crazy out there.
I am disappointed that Crist can't stand up for his earlier actions, but not surprised... he is, after all, a Republican. It must be part of the Republican credo to be okay with flip-flopping - IF YOU ARE DOING IT TO WIN.
As an independent, I vote the issue(s), not the party. I believe the stimulus HAS helped the economy. I am seeing it in the work coming my way now after a year of little to no activity.
Who in their right mind thinks that 8-25yrs of bad policies can POSSIBLY be fixed in a mere 9-12 months? If you think so, you are hopelessly and incurably stuck on stupid.
Hope that Floridians realize that ALL the republicans in control in Florida MUST be voted out of office in the next election. Just to read all the blogs and how the democrats are put down just because they want to help those in more need (health insurance) is just sick! No more republicans in Florida. Not even that Marco Rubio who got me to my last nerve!!!
Here is my question. Are Republicans going to go after all of the Governmors in this country that took the money from the Stimulus?
I didn't support the 2nd stimulus plan either but I was at least willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt since he was willing to attach strings to the plan unlike Bush whose plan was to hand out $780 billion to any and all comers (but we will never know exactly who or how much money any of his big business buds took). I don't really understand why anyone would make a big deal over Crist taking the money from the 2nd stimulus package since it has all gone to the state and is being used to try and make things better for the people in Florida. Is it really a matter of who handed over the money (democrat or republican)? That's just pathetic for any voter to fall into that dumb trap...seems it's just what the politicians want, go figure.
Watch your back Crist. The GOP will not support any measure, regardless of how much the American people benefit.
They are out to eliminate all moderates which will make them the party of the radical religious right.
Many hide behind the bible, claiming their virtues while losing
all sight of true Christianity.
One cannot continue to try to destroy our country and us, putting
party, anything to win over the welfare of the American people.
What is the definition of terrorism?
First, it is way too early to say whether or not people actually benefited from the spending spree.......inflation could be just around the corner.
Second, it is never smart or conservative to spend money you do not have. That is actually what got us into this mess.
Third, Christ is a person who believes in whatever he thinks he needs to in order to get elected. In other words, he is a populist, not a true leader.
Forth, he has really screwed up the insurance market here in Florida. Oh….and just ask how the government run insurance company is doing.
Fifth, he has worsened the property tax situation in the State by advancing the Save Our Home discount scam.
And finally, I won't be fooled by or voting for this RINO again.
Jimbo> President Obama was "protected"? Are you serious? Please read his autobiography. You really have no clue what you're talking about.
And the Dems who lost on Tuesday, do you think, perhaps, that they were just unpopular politicians who would have lost regardless of the President's support? Has that occured to you at all? No, of course not.
As for Crist, what a weasel. Not surprising.
This is the perfect example of pathetic, spineless politicians who stand for nothing other than re-election. Until the moderates in the GOP stand up for something honest and true their followers will continue to be brainwashed by the likes of Rush, Beck, Hannity, Bachman and Palin, doing huge damage to the country.