(CNN) – Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist explained Monday his recent switch to the Democratic Party, saying the GOP has become "less tolerant (and) less welcoming."
"I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me," Crist said on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," repeating a line he used at the Democratic National Convention. "Issue after issue they seem to get more strident and more difficult."
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Crist tweeted Friday night a photo of himself at the White House holding voter registration paperwork and wrote, "Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President @BarackObama!"
He served as a Republican when he was governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011. He later ran for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010, but failed to capture the GOP nomination and ran as an independent, instead. Republican Marco Rubio ultimately won the Florida contest.
Crist re-inserted himself into the national spotlight when he endorsed President Barack Obama this cycle, a move that came as little surprise to Florida Republicans who watched him campaign for Obama's re-election bid and back Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida.
His decision to change parties could be seen as an early step toward another run for governor. Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, is currently in his first term and is up for re-election in 2014.
In the Monday interview, Crist said he was frustrated with the Republican Party's tone on immigration, education and voter ID laws this last election year, though he did not delve deep into specifics.
"Each and every one of these issues really was counter to my values that my mother and father raised me on and the kind of ethic that we believe in–that we should be a tolerant people, a welcoming people, and try to have a big tent as a party, rather than try to shrink things," he said, adding that both of his parents are still Republicans.
Crist quoted another former Republican governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, who made headlines in June when he argued President Ronald Reagan may have a hard time getting along with many in the current political climate.
"I think the leadership of the party today has moved into a direction, even as Jeb Bush said not long ago, that probably it would be difficult for Ronald Reagan to succeed in today's Republican Party," Crist said.
– CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.
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