(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)
Wow! He accepted money that actually helped his constituents during one of the worst economic crises of our time! ***GASP**** THE NERVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Conservatives won't win....the vast majority of the country are somewhere in the middle. But to all you "Conservatives only when a Democrat is in office"....keep thinking that "conservatives" won yesterday. The Republicans that did win ran very middle of the road, positive campaigns. The Democrats that lost ran negative campaigns. People don't like that. I hope you don't have your hopes too high.
It would be irresponsible for any Governor to reject stimulus money for his or her state, after it had been approved by Congress. That is just common sense. Rejecting stimulus money is pure politics.
Just like all Republicans, they don't have a mind of their own and will not stand by the discissions they make, they back peddle and then lie about what they said or what they did.......for fear of the repercussions from, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, O'Riely, Palin....the far right wing wacko's....we have 3 more years with this President and in that time the stimulus will show you all that it was the right thing to do for the stituation Bush got this country in........then what? You watch then the Republicans will all be saying "Yeah I supported it".......won't work we all took Names when this stimulus came out and we know each and everyone of you that didn't support it......
You lie, Crist, pandering to the Republican base (again) as he desperately bashed the president and Judge Sotomayor. No gracias.
republicans don't know if they are coming or going and they appear to get confused very easily. Their intellect tells them one thing but they desire to be elected as a republican tells them something else. republicans have no tolerance for other other republicans, and if they cross the line one time they will be punished by the republican guards and ostracized by them.
..if you didn't accept funds you were threatened by the Fed gov't and you still had to pay in to it...it was a fear-based shakedown...seen the price of gold lately....that is a hedge against the inflation this disaster of a plan is causing.
Is it kind of scary that Republicans are now using scare tactics to attack their own?
Doesn't that seem kind of weird to anyone? Is this what politics will be like from now on. Attack anyone even if its your own party.
Great! I didn't spend any political capital on this policy, but my state greatly benefited from it. I don't like ice cream, but I ate it anyway. I didn't ask for the ice cream, but it was cold and I was hot, so I gobbled that stuff down like no tomorrow. But after I ate it, I realized that I really don't like it.
Charlie...I am glad you DID back stim. I am one of 700 teachers jobs that were saved in Broward County alone.
Stop lying GOP....you might do better.
Gov. Christ has always put his own best interest in front what's best for his state. As a Florida resident he's been nothing but a disappointment expecially since he announced he was going to run for the Senate. His reasoning as he explained was he "could do more for Florida as a Senator in Washington" than remain as Govenor....oh really ! ! !
Now he's pandering to the Conservative Republican's. Here's a man who even got married when he thought he may be selected as a VP running mate to McCain just to keep up for appearance sake. He even seems willing to give up his year round TAN to be in Washington.
HE ACCEPTED ALL THE MONEY AND HE HAD TO ACTUALLY REQUEST IT FOR EDUCATION. The rules were he had to have a budget set at 2006 levels for education. His current education budget is at 2004 spending levels. He had to specifically request the federal dollars for education and get a WAIVER because he had cut education so badly and increased prison building budgets by $300 million. This man has lied repeatedly and the children and the people of Florida are suffering for it.
His tax property amendment savings millions for Floridians – bull – just got my tax bill for 2010 – up $222. In January of last year when his "hold harmless education budget tax property relief" amendment was passed I got a $45 property tax break and education funds were immediately slashed. Get rid of Crist before he completely ruins the State of Florida.
I think this shows a very concerted effort by the far right wing of the Republican Party to takeover the forefront of American politics. If 40% of the nation describes themselves as "conservative" this doesn't imply a victory in every state. (You need 50%+1 to win.. sorry). Moderates in this country need to stand up and defend this.
The Stimulus Package was meant to help our nation's INFRASTRUCTURE (aka the roads we drive on, the power grid, the utility lines). If you were expecting some trampoline of economic recovery complete with roses at the end, you were sadly mistaken.
Crist was a terrible Governor so I hope he doesn't get the nomination for other reasons. He cut education in our state's University System and many school disctricts, he was responsible for the loss of jobs for thousands of first responders like police and firemen, and crippled many local governments in the process.
Have a debate on issues, and not the "identification" politics of ideology. THAT IS REAL CHANGE
Don't worry about Crist. He won't make it far once hes outted for being another closeted conservative homosexual. Enough people know of his sexcapades that eventually this will all come out. If they can't be true to themselves, how can he be true to his constituents?
LoL... Funny .. when things start going good Next Year as it should then will he say something else .. people dont understand that 787 billion was approved and things are looking good so far and we have not even used half of that money yet .. and may never have to .. but let the others tell you that Obama is spending money like crazy .. when he has not even SPENT anything really... its been approved to be used that does not mean u have to spend it ... its just like a credit card with a limited thats all .. maybe if some people read and understand then they would know , but i guess thats asking to much
Crist has no firm convictions. He'll go with wherever the winds blow. Go Rubio!
This is too funny. I LIVE in Florida, Mr. Christ, and you not only endorsed it, you sang its praises from the rooftops – and it has benefited our state tremendously. All those teaching jobs saved and health care jobs created, money invested in education and in our infrastructure. There was a time I thought you'd be the one Republican who could actually get my vote. You just blew that.
Christ points to “successes” and “needs” that were paid for through the stimulus measure. Initiated and fought through by the Dems and the President AGAINST the whole GOP crowed – and then he has the nerve to criticize the President for it? I was for it before I was against it…"pragmatic". Well, I guess a real GOP hope for – what????
I hope the conservatives purge Crist from their party and open up a senate seat that democrats had no chance of winning with a moderate, well liked Crist. He was the only republican that I dared vote for based on his more rational thinking than his party of do nothings.
A move to the right will further isolate republicans from the mainstream. Keep that tractor heading for the cliff you warmongering, economy busting, middle income hurting conservatives!
Anyone that won't vote for Crist because he agreed to take funds for his state need to rethink their priorites as Floridians.
Every state has been hit by the economy. Every state needs help with teir budget. The Governors job is to do his best to ease shortfalls. Crist did this. If he hadn't, it meant he was playing politic with his people.
That's not Reublican or Democrat- that's a job well done!
Crist stay in Florida with all the rest of the old fools who believe the Republicans are winners.
You were for it before you were against,,RIGHT !!
I kind of feel sorry for Crist, he is having to explain himself to people who have a 4th grade education. Who am I kidding, that's an insult to 4th graders..
Go ahead. Pander to the extreme right. It'll only help kill the GOP faster. A grateful nation thanks you.
Hey guys, give the guy a break! I'm a Democrat through and through, but here's a Republican who is just trying to do right for his state & he's being jacked by his own party. They're trying to pull a fast one on him like they did to Scozzafava in NY....just because he's a little more moderate than the crazies like Palin & Limbaugh! Look what that kind of crap does anyway? Gets the first Dem in office in that part of the state in over 100 yrs!!
While I have to take issue with the fact that he feels the need to defend his stance & back away from the President, the reality is that its his own party turning on him! Its a sad day when things like this happen.....Like I said, give the guy a break!
This is like all the right-wing gov's who took the stimulus money and then railed against big gov spending. The hard right call the democratic leadership names but don't put forth concrete alternatives to the progressives' solution. Pres. Bush had almost eight years to not win 2 wars, but Pres. Obama takes flak from progressives and conservatives when he doesn't rush to figure out how to win both in 10 months. Everyone needs to calm down, stop shouting, give support to each other and we'll be fine. The blind obstruction (and blind acceptance) needs to stop.