November 5th, 2009
10:27 AM ET
4 years ago

Crist says he never backed stimulus measure

Crist told CNN Wednesday he never endorsed the president's stimulus measure.
Crist told CNN Wednesday he never endorsed the president's stimulus measure.

(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)

soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    A politician is a politician, is a politician no matter what then?

    November 5, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  2. dejamakan

    Bring it on right wing nut cases. We need Marco Rubio!! When is quitter Sarah and her cronies coming down. NY 23??? here we go again!

    November 5, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  3. William

    Who cares any more? Politics is a tit-for-tat game that sees no end. What is the point. It has become a game of one-upmanship.

    November 5, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  4. Honest AB

    All you people are fools! Stop depending on the Washington and the government to fix your problems. None of them care about the average citizen, whether you tag or label yourself as republican, demorcrate, or independent. Stop being a bunch of fools, this is how it is. Cut up your credit cards, go thru the emergency rooms, like the illegals, pay your mortgage and main house bills, and forget the rest. Then and only then will wall street, credit markets, and Washington pay attention to what the people are saying. What do you think they are going to sue every person who don't pay their credit card, I doubt it seriously, they can't take your house because it belongs to the bank, they can't take your car, most of them belongs to the bank. So who really gets stiffed? That's right, the crooks who raised your interest rates whether you paid on time or not. I will not give another penny to the credit market, or the insurance company. If you have any since at all, you would do the same, before you find yourself and your family streets for not paying a bunch of crooks, who is robbing us every day.

    November 5, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. Honest AB

    All you people are fools! Stop depending on Washington and the government to fix your problems. None of them care about the average citizen, whether you tag or label yourself as republican, demorcrate, or independent. Stop being a bunch of fools, this is how it is. Cut up your credit cards, go thru the emergency rooms, like the illegals, pay your mortgage and main house bills, and forget the rest. Then and only then will wall street, credit markets, and Washington pay attention to what the people are saying. What do you think they are going to sue every person who don't pay their credit card, I doubt it seriously, they can't take your house because it belongs to the bank, they can't take your car, most of them belongs to the bank. So who really gets stiffed? That's right, the crooks who raised your interest rates whether you paid on time or not. I will not give another penny to the credit market, or the insurance company. If you have any since at all, you would do the same, before you find yourself and your family on the streets for not paying a bunch of crooks, who is robbing us every day.

    November 5, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  6. Russ

    Obama and the Dem's are in big trouble. They are still mis-reading the public. It is about one thing only – JOBS. The Dems policies and initiatives will only cost jobs and not add any. I am talking about private sector jobs not government jobs funded with debt.

    Look for big Reoublican gains in 2010

    November 5, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. Floridana

    I used to like Crist as governor until the republican machine got a hold of him. He did what he had to do for his state, whats wrong with that? Florida needed the money, and we got it.....Thanks Mr. President

    November 5, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  8. LC in North Canton

    Losses in Governor's races is getting a lot of Republican attention, but Governors do NOT vote in Congress. Palin drones made a point of embracing the far Right and abandoning Republican moderates and Independents who are trying to find balance in the center; the result – Republicans LOST congressional seats, and thereby lost voting power. If the Republican party thinks that is a victory, great.... I think it's just one more indication of how disastrous Sarah Palin and her admirers are for the country and any chance we have to climb out of this trend toward divisiveness and polarization. I foresee the marginalizing of the Republican Party and the emergence of the Independent block as the new power player in Washington.

    November 5, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. Ed Tallahassee

    The one thing you can say about Crist is that he always know what direction the wind is blowing. Right now it is blowing back in his face.

    November 5, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. Steve

    I am neither Democrat nor Republican but I have to admit, it is kinda fun to watch the Repuplicans tear each other apart to obtain control of the party. Maybe if we are lucky the Democrats wil start laying into each other with the same vehemence and we will finally be rid of both of these disfunctional, irrelevant parties.

    November 5, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  11. John, Brooklyn, NY

    Gee....sounds like Kerry's 2004 claim of "I opposed it after I supported it". Sorry, Crist, you can't have it both ways. We Democrats are more than happy to have Rubio, a Palin-style extremist, to run for Senate so that the average Floridian can be represented in the Senate by a Democrat.

    November 5, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. DJ in TX

    The GOP is funny to me. Criticize Gov Crist for accepting money on behalf of his state. Please name one, just one GOP Governor who did not accept the money from the stimulus and use it for his state. Gov Jindal was going around personally handing out stimilus money to his constituents. If the GOP is so conservative (as they claim), I'd like to see 2 things – ALL of them NOT request any earmarks (which expand government) AND they all look at the government programs in their state that are wasteful and cancel them.

    When the DOD decided to stop spending on the F-22 and divert the funds to more practical aircraft that can help in the middle east, the GOP Congressman immediately went on record not supporting that. It affected his district as they will lose some jobs. Again, this was Sec Gates idea. ALL congress (GOP and DEM) will stop at nothing to keep programs in their district even if they believe they are wasteful. If you started dropping programs from teh government, unemployment will rise as well. Let's see these conservative GOP support that initiative.

    November 5, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  13. AEK

    Must have gotten "the call" from Rush Lamebrain. That's okay Charlie, those will grow back in no time, that is, if you ever had a pair!

    November 5, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  14. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    Why would he back peddle on this. Florida got a lot of stimulus money and it probably helped a lot of people. If there were no extra money they would be in a lot worse shape than they are now and then what would he be campaigning on.

    November 5, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  15. TLD

    The Republican/Conservative Party is a disgrace and an abomination. There is something putrid about these guys and gals. The Republican Parties of past decades did not make me want to shower after I hear or see them speak on issues. I think it may have started with the Newt Gingrich Crew a few years back.

    Coulter/Beck 2012

    November 5, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  16. Mr. C.

    Still waiting for the day when people start considering it a good thing for politicians to actually work WITH their fellows instead of constantly working against each other. I'm also tired of the hate mongering that's taken place in the republican party. The Republicans are appealing to peoples worst fears without regard to the truth of their statements or the damaging effects that hyper partisan creates. Democrats, this includes you too. Stop saying stupid things like "Republicans are shameless... Disgusting...", it does NOT add to the conversation in a constructive way.

    November 5, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. David

    The stimulus money is good for Florida. Crist supported it and he should be proud he did what was right for Florida rather than pandering to the tea bagger crowd. Anyone can go look up the news stories and/or video from 10 months ago and see he supported it. Denying it now just makes him look dishonest. Maybe there is some difference between 'supporting' and 'endorsing' that makes it not a lie? It's sad that a popular ex-governor would fold so quickly.

    November 5, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  18. batamap

    Interesting, since Bush actually got the ball rolling on the stimulus before he left office. I wonder how whole-heartedly Crist would be supporting the plan if Bush's term hadn't ended when it did. (Not that I agree with the stimulus plan at all – just wonder about Crist's position).

    November 5, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  19. james

    yeah, that is smart back away from obama (a winner) and align yourself to palin (quitter and a loser)...align yourself to palin and that bunch and you will be sitting exactly where they are today...running/governing absolutely nothing and running around with sour grapes!!

    November 5, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  20. cropp

    Christ, you mean problematic, not pragmatic

    November 5, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  21. T'SAH from Virginia

    Crist will be KICKED TO THE CURB by the far-right REPUBLI-CAN'Ts – just like they did in NY-23 and a DEMOCRAT is going to win!!! CRIST should stand for what he believes and if it does not take him TOO FAR RIGHT – so be it!!

    But OH NO, the REPUBLI-CAN'Ts are too afraid to become moderate and it's going to cost them. There are already three parties – RePUBS, Democrats and Independents!! The RePUKES are trying to form another one and it's not going to work!!

    I love it that the Party of NO is trying to reinforce their BASE with FAR-RIGHT thinking – it makes it better for the Democrats!!

    November 5, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. FL for Change

    Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire! You are a HORRIBLE governor, and you will be a WORSE Senator. People of Florida, WAKE UP and vote this tool completely out of office. His administration is a sham and so is his marriage. L-O-S-E-R!!! Why not say, Crist, "You know, I've ruined the State of Florida, especially education, and I felt it best to put the state on the right track and take the stimulus money in order to save jobs." Something wrong with stating the truth? Oh...I forgot...you a REPUBLICAN POLITICIAN. Shameless...

    November 5, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  23. Fitz in Texas

    Looks like more and more are jumping off the Obama/Pelosi/Reid ship. The rest better hurry because that ship is sinking real fast.

    November 5, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  24. chuck

    It takes a special brand of homosapien to become a politician and it takes a honed professional at the quick-handed 'find the nut' game of "nut and shell" to maneuver around the easily influenced and malleable electorate. I was against it before I was before it before I was against it. Political speak that voters really understand and will come in droves to re-elect.

    November 5, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  25. PREDICTA

    Many will be running from the Obama grand vision in the coming weeks and months. Self preservation trumps party ideology.

    November 5, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
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