(CNN) – When independent Senate candidate Charlie Crist railed on health care reform legislation in a debate held Tuesday night, he didn't call it health care reform, he called it "Obamacare."
"I think that Obamacare was off the charts, was wrong," Crist said in a debate between the Sunshine State's three Senate candidates held at Nova Southeast University in Fort Lauderdale. "It taxed too much, has mandates that are probably unconstitutional and it's not the way to go."
"And it was rammed through," Crist added for good measure.
Moments later, the Democratic candidate, Rep. Kendrick Meek, saw an opening.
"I'm just shocked to hear now the new lingo from the governor talking about Obamacare, I wonder if he said that to the president when he was walking with him on the beach," Meek said to laughter from the generally restrained audience.
Crist and President Obama walked along a beach in Pensacola Beach, Florida, in June during the midst of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis.
"When we were on the beach, we were protecting Florida. And that's what I talked to him about," Crist shot back.
Meek then accused the governor of supporting offshore oil drilling.
"No, I'm not," Crist replied, turning his sights to the race's frontrunner, Republican Marco Rubio. "He's the guy who wants offshore oil drilling."
Crist, who in recent polls has fallen behind Rubio by double digits, has sought to skim support from the former House Speaker by attempting to appeal to conservative voters.
The three candidates will face off in a nationally televised debate this Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on CNN. CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley will host the debate from the University of South Florida in Tampa.