GOP groups hit Crist for 'political opportunism' over same-sex marriage comments
January 3rd, 2014
01:29 PM ET
12 months ago

GOP groups hit Crist for 'political opportunism' over same-sex marriage comments

(CNN) - Republican groups blasted former Florida governor - and current gubernatorial hopeful - Charlie Crist on Friday for switching his position on same-sex marriage.

Their criticism comes in the wake of Crist's apology for his previous support of Florida's same-sex marriage ban.

Asked by CNN to respond Crist’s apology, Republican Governors Association spokesman Jon Thompson said Crist’s recent comments about same-sex marriage are “the latest example of his embracing every side of an issue in a desperate effort of political opportunism.”

The Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat recently acknowledged in an interview that he formerly opposed same-sex marriage for political reasons, adding he privately felt awkward about toeing the social conservative line as a Republican for a long time.

"I'm sorry I did that. It was a mistake. I was wrong. Please forgive me," the former governor told Watermark online, a publication in Florida that covers LGBT issues and events.

Crist is back in the political spotlight this year, trying to reclaim the governor's office he held from 2007 to 2011.

Instead of running for re-election as governor in 2010, Crist ran for a U.S. Senate seat. He dropped out as a Republican and ran as an independent after trailing behind then-tea party backed Marco Rubio in the GOP primary race.

In December 2012, he became a Democrat and announced his bid to reclaim the governor's office nearly a year later. He's now challenging incumbent GOP Gov. Rick Scott.

Susan Hepworth, spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida, told CNN Crist will "say and do anything to move his political career forward."

"This is one in a long line of self-admitted politically expedient moves by Charlie, because Charlie does what's best for Charlie," she continued. "The most egregious example of political opportunism is when Charlie abandoned his job as governor to run for U.S. Senate while Florida's economy was tanking."

When he was running for governor in 2006, Crist signed a petition to get a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage on the ballot. Two years later, when the amendment was on the ballot, he again supported it. The measure passed with 62% of the vote.

As governor and Senate candidate in 2010, Crist said he supported civil unions and LGBT anti-discrimination laws. He also said he opposed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule in the military, which has since been repealed by Congress.

Crist first came out in support for same-sex marriage last year when it became legal in Delaware and Rhode Island.

"I most certainly support marriage equality in Florida and look forward to the day it happens here," he wrote in a Facebook post in May.

In the interview with Watermark, which was published Tuesday, Crist acknowledged his original support for the same-sex marriage ban was for political purposes.

"And it was wrong. That's what I'm telling you. And I'm sorry," he said.

Explaining his eventual shift from the GOP to the Democratic Party, Crist said he was raised Republican and ran for office as one because he wanted to "be a good team player."

Responding to the Republican groups' criticism of Crist's comments, a spokesman for Crist said "Americans have been evolving on this question of equality for several years now."

"Politics would be a better place if more politicians just admitted they made mistakes and move on," Kevin Cate said.

Crist's interview with Watermark wasn't the first time he expressed remorse for his previous opposition to same-sex marriage. In December 2012-when he officially became a Democrat–he told reporters it was one of his regrets, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

"Would I do it today? No," Crist said.

– CNN's Dan Merica contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2014 • Charlie Crist • Florida • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    People evolve on issues over time and all of a sudden they have an epiphany and see the light. I'm sure there are a bunch of other issues Charlie Crist isn't aligned with the GOP establishment about which he's probably mum about.

    January 3, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  2. Tampa Tim

    The crazy rascal Koch brothers will bankroll bagger Rick Scott for over $100 million. They started the TV attacks on Crist three months ago. They can only attack, as Rick Scott has no accomplishments to run on.

    January 3, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Crist will bring sanity back to Talahassee.

    January 3, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. Sheila

    he's just trying to be like Romney, whichever the wind blows, that's the way they go.

    January 3, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. IA

    The guys a "chump". Charlie does what benefits Charlie. Advice to Floridians: If you're going to vote Democrat for governor, go ahead! But vote for a candidate that has scruples , integrity, and sticks to his principles....not this "rag".

    January 3, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. A True Conservative

    You don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing, do you Charlie.....Too bad there are so few Americans....let alone politicians.....wh have any real moral compass and stick by their beliefs.....if they have any real beliefs.....

    January 3, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. Smitty

    Oh Timmy wrong as usual, As much as I hate to admit it, Scott has been good for Fl., math doesn't lie timmy, people do, Crist is no different than the rest, they all lie when needed, under Scott the economy here has improved and same with the unemp #s, boy facts ruin so many lame blogs !!! LOL

    January 3, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    People evolve on issues over time and all of a sudden they have an epiphany and see the light.
    ---------
    Why is it when a Republican changes their stance on an issue they're called flip-floppers but when a democrat does the same thing, their views "evolve over time"?

    January 3, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    IA

    The guys a "chump". Charlie does what benefits Charlie. Advice to Floridians: If you're going to vote Democrat for governor, go ahead! But vote for a candidate that has scruples , integrity, and sticks to his principles....not this "rag".
    ----------------------–
    Vote for Scott, who has the scruples and integrity of a stick in the mud, someone who should be behind bars for fraud.

    January 3, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. Tampa Tim

    Smitty – Keep trying. Eventually you will be right about something. So far, you have been shut out. But do keep up the bagger humor, it becomes you.

    January 3, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  11. Tampa Tim

    Rudy – We have pythons and gators in the Everglades that have more scruples than the Medicaid scammer Scott.

    January 3, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  12. Tampa Tim

    The brain dead baggers have almost ruined Florida. The idiots like Scott, Rubio, Doho, and a host of others are bought and paid for by the Kochs.

    January 3, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Fair asked:

    Why is it when a Republican changes their stance on an issue they're called flip-floppers but when a democrat does the same thing, their views "evolve over time"?
    -----------------------
    Good question. Here's some food for thought. Republicans and Democrats apply those terms to themselves. Republicans call one another flip-flopers, while Democrats assert that their views have matured and evolved over time. [drive safely]

    January 3, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    Just remember everyone: Rick Scott took the Fofth in his testimony over 70 times. If he's such a tower of virtue, why would he do that? I would say that trumps any inconsistencies that Crist has in his record.

    January 3, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Fair is Fair
    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    People evolve on issues over time and all of a sudden they have an epiphany and see the light.
    ---
    Why is it when a Republican changes their stance on an issue they're called flip-floppers but when a democrat does the same thing, their views "evolve over time"?
    ------------------------------------------
    I'm not sure Fair. But if you can decipher IOKIYAR, then clearly you can understand the same rules don't apply to everyone.

    January 3, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. CB FL

    You talk about flip flop. When the hospital assoc. went to Scott and ask for him to let the Medicaid come to FL under the ACA because it was going to cost them a lot of money if he didn't. He told them he would let it happen then 2 days later after he got a phone call from the Koch's brothers he came out against it.

    January 3, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. Pieced Off

    So has the Florida economy improved under Rick Scott or has it improved under Barack Obama?

    I didn't see any governors taking the rap when the economy tanked.

    January 3, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  18. Pastor Paul c.

    Dis guys knw wat de do. So give dem a break pls?

    January 3, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Fair asked:

    Why is it when a Republican changes their stance on an issue they're called flip-floppers but when a democrat does the same thing, their views "evolve over time"?
    -------–
    Good question. Here's some food for thought. Republicans and Democrats apply those terms to themselves. Republicans call one another flip-flopers, while Democrats assert that their views have matured and evolved over time. [drive safely]
    -------
    Another semi-comatose answer. Well done.

    January 3, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  20. Warren

    He has my vote.

    January 3, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. yolanda

    Intersting to see the people on here supporting/defending Crist who were just yesterday eviscerating Lieberman for being "disloyal". Short memories, or selective memories.

    January 3, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  22. Malory Archer

    Pastor Paul c.

    Dis guys knw wat de do. So give dem a break pls?

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    What? In English please.

    January 3, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |