(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)
Technically, he supported the measure. Endorse are very different things but in all seriousness, he was in fact favor of it.
No offense but I can name you some GOP Gov who accepted the money. Like for example, the Mississippi Gov. But only one distinct difference...didn't want the unemployment benefits. So in all fairness, I can name a couple of GOP Gov who accepted the money but at their own limits. Heck, some of them went to go as far as to call it unconstituonal, like Texas who wanted to seceded(that's funny). But slow down, if you wanna pick on Gov Crrist, pick on other Governors who greatly accepted the money because that was a different and Crist is right. It was about a month into his inauguration, it was very early.
And watch out, what did Gov Palin do? Or should I say, Ex Gov? She quit her job, right? Hey, anything goes, :)
send back the stimulus money to the fed govt they can spread it to the other 49 states or accept the money and say thank you to me the taxpayer
Yes you did, Crist – and you're GOING DOWN for doing so.
I watched this interview and I realized that I had never heard him speak before. When the interview was over, I also realized that this appearance was nothing but quality control for his appearance in February with the president. He squeezed and squealed his way out of this tight corner like a greased hog. It wasn't pretty. I've never seen swine tip-toe through the stimilus tulips like Crist did. I am always amused by politicians when they are coddling senior citizens. Since his constituents are largely senior citizens, he has perfected his pandering.
nothing could be better. Isolate your state even more from mainstream America. Become part of the "south"...that is really something to be proud of
The stimulus was a joke. Democratic pork. But since they are using our taxes anyways, the governors can't turn down the money or we get screwed. Here is the deal....I'm independent. Anyone who voted for that waste of money that they call stimulus or votes for a public option in healthcare, will not get my vote in the next election. Think before you vote congress because we are watching you.
Yeah, he's gotta back track a little. But focus on what he said. They all took it, he just didn't complain beforehand like the rest did.
Crist, you have now lost my respect for you. You were right in supporting the stimulus and wrong in denouncing it now due to political pressure from the left. If you do not win the nomination, it is not because of your support for the stimulus, which was good for Florida and the country, but because of your political pandering to the loonies on the right. Shame on you, Crist :(
Isn't this flip flopping? Maybe he should face his own demons and do what is right for his own spirit before he event attempts at helping the public. I live in Florida and I am embarrassed by our politicians.
Some politicians are becoming a little bid wiser in NOT aligning with Nobama!!
It's really beyond imagination how the GOP has degenerated. It's really very sad when you think about it. We are supposed to have 2 viable major parties, who, in the best scenario, would have constructive arguments that go back and forth on all critical issues concerning our people and as of now we just have the Democrats with thoughts about how our country's well being will be in the future as well as now. The Republicans on the other hand, as unbelievable as it sounds, haven't contributed anything, nada except trying to get people riled up for all the wrong reasons. I think even the true conservatives are shaking their heads in shame. This country needs help, and even if you don't believe in Pres. Obama's policies, at least this man is working hard in trying to fix what's wrong. I mean everything he say's is true concerning energy, We keep importing oil, lets stop the bull and go all out for solar and wind and renewables. Health, let's stop the bleeding caused by the Insurance Companies, Less Money for contributions means more money into the economy. Let's Wake up America.
YOU LIE!!! but in this case that's a GOOD thing!
Some Conservatives should ask themselves a question "What might have happened if the Stimulus never happened" Did you ever think what might happen if we entered into a Depression???? Would you have taken that chance ????? An adult with a 4th grade education is a sad thing.
As a Floridian, I konw just how soulless and calculating Crist can be, but to tell such a self-serving bald-faced lie is beyond my low expectations.
Crist openly and supported the stimulus bill. Period.
Since the stimulus bill has save us from a decade + long economic depression, it was the only thing a responsible, sane and ethical govenor could do.
Well he still has sane.
Mainstream America expects good hearted polticians like Crist to fight against the socialists who are looking to destroy this country in their quest for a power that our founding fathers never intended on any poltician having.
Just look at Detroit and Chicago, this is the end result of continuous unquestioned Democrat rule. Most Americans don't want their children subjected to a violent war zone that is designed to hold them back and make them the next generation of government dependent Democrat voters.
Crist is a liar, plain and simple. Just another pathetic Republican fool.
It's time progressive and independent people start to pick up the phone and call the main-stream media to tell them to their faces that we are sick and tired of being "fair" to the Right when all they do is lie, distort, deflect, and ignore. CALL THE MEDIA.
Tell them to stop falling for the Republican spin every single time. Tell them to stop paying attention to Faux Propaganda and their insane rantings for ratings that have no basis in fact either politically or substantively. Tell them to report ONLY FACTS AS NEWS and NOT OPINION AS NEWS. It's time we take our MEDIA back from the corporate shills who are only concerned about profit and sensationalism and NOT facts, news, and the betterment of the American people.
i guess its hard to be a republican moderate when your party is only 20% far right in the national elections but almost 100% in the primary elections. i guess that means you will have a whacko republican vs a democrat in local elections, which is fine by me
Kendrick Meek for Senate, 2010!
The Conservative wing of the Republican is to feared...and laughed at.
To think that members of their own party would buy into some of the nefarious lies they are spreading is disgusting.
Moderate Republicans – there is plenty of room for you in the Democratic Party to render the Conservatives irrelevant.
And as for you idiot Conservatives:
Don't go away mad, just go away.
Nice backbone Charlie. Way to cave.
Those who benefited, the citizens of Florida, aren't complaining about receiving stimulous money. Who is Rubio for, himself or the citizens; I think the answer is Rubio himself.
He should never accepted the money for the state of Florida if he did not back the stimulus..............................which way is the wind blowing today, Charlie???????
I just have to Laugh my butt off at all of the massive right-wing hypocrite hogwash I'm reading here. Everyone's tossing the word "socialist" around like it's evil. I expect everyone one of you nitwits to refuse social security and medicare when you retire, both are socialist programs.
Oh, and let's not forget on the spending thing: Bush spent more than anyone who came before him and ya'll just licked his toes for 8 years and never uttered a single word about it.
Hypocrites, every last one of you.
Sorry, Charlie. This dog won't hunt. Spend your damage control time worrying about the people who raised funds for you.
In other words, there is no room for Crist in the republican party either. The republicans who are being ousted out of the party should gladly go to show just how _ _ _ _ _ _ up the republican party really. They could really use this to their advantage if they weren't so scared.