(CNN) - Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who served as a Republican but is now listed with no party affiliation, endorsed President Barack Obama on Sunday.
"As America prepares to pick our president for the next four years - and as Florida prepares once again to play a decisive role - I'm confident that President Barack Obama is the right leader for our state and the nation," Crist wrote in an op-ed published by the Tampa Bay Times.
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Crist argued the president had proven leadership capabilities during his three and a half years in office. He also charged the GOP with being out of touch. At the heart of his argument, Crist wrote Republicans had moved "so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people."
He specifically pointed to draft language in the Republican Party's platform including a call for a constitutional ban on abortion that makes no exceptions for rape or incest.
"The truth is that the party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve," he wrote.
Crist has been known to voice his criticism of the GOP and side with Democrats on certain issues in the past. Following his failure to capture the Republican nomination in a Senate battle against now-Sen. Marco Rubio in 2010, Crist ran as an independent. And earlier this month, the former governor endorsed Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson in his fight to defend his seat against Republican challenger Rep. Connie Mack.
In his op-ed Sunday, Crist also praised Obama for his role in the economic recovery following the 2008 financial collapse and ensuing recession.
"The president's response was swift, smart and farsighted. He kept his compass pointed due north and relentlessly focused on saving jobs, creating more and helping the many who felt trapped beneath the house of cards that had collapsed upon them," he wrote.
He further highlighted the president's education and health care policies, insisting "we have more work to do, more investments to make and more waste to cut.
"But only one candidate in this race has proven a willingness to navigate a realistic path to prosperity," he wrote.
Responding to the op-ed Sunday, some Florida Republicans said Crist's endorsement was nothing more than a political ploy.
"I've said it time and again, Charlie Crist is the silly putty of Florida politics, he'll bend and twist whatever direction you want and if you smash him against the newspaper he'll offer you a poll-tested, mirror version," Brian Hughes, a well-respected Florida GOP strategist, said.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party described Crist's op-ed as "political opportunism."
"Make no mistake about it: This is Charlie Crist trying to shed his skin for a political comeback," Lenny Curry said in a statement. "Despite the threat Florida is facing from a severe storm, Charlie Crist has demonstrated, yet again, that his political ambition will always come before the needs of Floridians."
Curry then listed a number of quotes in which Crist attempted to bolster his conservative credentials throughout his career in Florida politics.
- CNN's Ashley Killough, Peter Hamby and Mark Preston contributed to this report.
Thank you Crist.... you speak the truth
We will take it – I think Crist is the first to "Openly" endorse President Obama – other than those you expect it from – and he is a Republican!! Wow, and a lot of folks in Florida still respects Crist!!!
Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!!
Apparently Mr. Crist likes to be on the losing side of things
Good endorsement!! Nice to see Crist step out
What hole has Crist buried his head in. 5 trillion more debt for our grandchildren. Less jobs. etc. If you listen to Obama when he first took office he would not run if things did not improve. Well he should be setting on his hands and not be running because things are a lot worse than when he took office. Also I truly believe he is holding the office illegally. I believe he was born outside the United States. His brothers say so and his birth Cert from Hawai is bogus. Two things are wrong with it. First off his father was not from the USA, He was born and lived in Kenya. Obama's birth cert lists his father as Afr-American. Wrong, the term Aft-American was not used until late in the 1960's long after He was born. And in the years he was born the term for nationality of the father was Negro, not A-American. So he is elected illegally.
I cannot believe the media ignors this error in the birth Cert. Proves the media is all wrong 98 percent of the time.
I wonder how much they had to pay him.
It actually is really simple, unless you can't think what is right and good for yourself, you would vote for Romney.
Despite what the polls say, Romney has never really had the lead with the vast majority of Americans. His own party failed to give him the nomination in the past and they aren't keen on him now, but there's nobody else for them to go with. And boy, did they TRY to find someone else!! They even tried to go with Newt Gingrich, for crying out loud, but nobody else stuck. Now the GOP are just waiting for 2016 to roll around so they can actually run a candidate they all like who stands a chance of winning.
This kinda thing helps to renew my faith in politicians. But chances are the next article I read will undo it.
Truth is, don't we all know this? The American economy has been better off under this very farsighted leader. The biggest question is could the economy had done any better than where we are now? I doubt.
Why of course he does. Crist has gone rogue. The reason he got bested by Rubio, and Floridians are fully aware: he lost touch with his constituents. Out with the rogue former Governor. This endorsement is on the same level as...Jimmy Carter backing Obama. No fizz!
Amen Brother! Crist is right on point!
Wake up! Charlie Crist went to work at the Morgan & Morgan law firm. John Morgan is a huge Democratic donor and supporter, including being a huge contributor to the Obama campaign. Crist was basically abandoned by the Republican party in his re-election campaign. Don't overblow this story into Crist "seeing the light" of the Annointed One.
The GOP has swung so far to the right that they are alienating everyone but their most dedicated base. And that's not going to win a national election. Today's GOP is the Democratic Party in 1968.
Exactly why you got kicked to the curb.
Crist has always been reasonable . . . Unlike the rest of the radical Republican party.
Next Crist will be contending that the government made billions off the GM rescue. You got your butt kicked and now you are just old and bitter.
Crist has outdone himself again! The thrashing he got in the Senate race must have affected him mentally. What a pity!
Good for Crist, but will it be helpful to all important Florida? With less enthusiasism than the '08 campaign, will FL Dem voters turn up at the polls? The sense of urgency felt in '08 is not present now. People of FL, don't hand our country over to the extreme right!
As a Floridian, I voted against Crist for the senate, even if I voted for him as Governor. This man changes his ideological thinking like a chameleon. He can change his character, views, thinking and stories to achieve his one and only goal... Get Charlie Crist a top job in government. He probably thinks at this stage that by coming out for Obama, he has a chance in 2016 to run for President. I rate Obama as a chameleon also... however, I think there is a vast difference between the two individuals. That differencelies in the fact that Obama is much more subtle and calculating and knows much better to figure out the odds. I am sure that Obama himself knows at this stage that he is going for a major defeat... something Crist has no clue about. The sooner Crist disappears from the political arena and the airwaves for the lawyer firm he works for, the better it will be for him to get back some credibility.
We all should practice less party affiliation and more intelligent decisions. This would help to relieve the gridlock created by a two party system where both sides on bent on damaging the other party; no matter what the extent of the damage that is inflicted on this country.
Charlie Crist speaks the Truth...unlike the delusional Republican hacks who devastated the USA and completely gutted out economy when they were in control from 1994-2008.
Fundamentalist theocracy in not popular.
Paul Ryan is the biggest spender; he never hed a true conservatives concern for how you pay for big wars and big tax breaks that bust the budget. His voting record is breathtaking for running up the credit card.
Who knows what Romney's policies and beliefs are. He is as shifty as the wind. The only thing he is really good at is socialized medicine, destroying the American middle class, and lying his posterior off.
The moderates are going to go somewhere. They know that ditching oppressive fundamentalism is why people were willing to risk their lives in leaky boats to come to the New World.
Crist is an egomaniac.....he's always right and never wrong. Carries no weight. No pun intended.
Crist is a moderate Republican, like Colin Powell, Arlen Spector and others who cannot stand the trajectory that their party has taken – extreme right wing views. It is only natural that he would support the President, because if one is not biased in either direction, and takes an objective view of what has been accomplished and the personality and intellect of each candidate, Obama is the only choice. Despite unprecedented obstruction, and the worst economy since FDR, President Obama has put this nation on the track to recovery. Not there yet, but getting better. Obama/Biden 2012