Crist controversy resurfaces in new Netflix film
January 21st, 2014
02:15 PM ET
7 months ago

Crist controversy resurfaces in new Netflix film

Washington (CNN) – A buzzy new political documentary coming to Netflix won't do much to heal Charlie Crist's reputation as an unprincipled, say-anything politician.

“Mitt,” debuting on Netflix this Friday, chronicles Mitt Romney’s two campaigns for the White House with intimate behind-the-scenes footage and candid interviews with the candidate and his family.

While the film largely glosses over the 2012 Republican nomination battles, it chronicles many of the twists and turns of the 2008 primary fight – including Crist’s surprising last-minute endorsement of John McCain just two days before the Florida primary.

That was back when Crist was the state’s Republican governor. Today, after quitting the GOP during an ill-fated 2010 Senate bid, he is running for the same seat - but as a Democrat.

The campaigns of McCain, Romney and Rudy Giuliani had all courted Crist aggressively before the 2008 primary. His endorsement of McCain, who was leading slightly in the polls at that point in the race, was galling to Giuliani and Romney.

The Giuliani campaign later claimed that Crist had outright promised to support the former New York City mayor before betraying him down the final stretch. Some members of the Romney campaign said Crist had also issued them the same pledge.

Crist defended his decision at the time, saying it was a “gut call.”

The documentary captures the exact moment Romney finds out about Crist’s endorsement. An anguished-looking Romney, wearing a golf shirt and slumped in his hotel room chair, is informed of the news by phone.

In the next shot, his son Tagg delivers the back story straight to camera.

“Charlie Crist had promised my dad multiple times that he was going to stay neutral,” he says. “He talked to many people on our campaign and he promised them all he was going to stay neutral. And now he has announced he is going to endorse John McCain. Now it's two days before the election. This is a big deal. It’s a tight race, and it’s probably enough to tip it in McCain’s favor.”

Romney complains that Crist lacked the courtesy just to call and offer a heads up.

“You do something like this, you call and say, ‘Look I made a decision,” Romney says. “By the way, we have all talked to him and we said, are you going to endorse somebody? And he said no.”

McCain went on to win the primary, and Romney soon dropped out of the Republican race. A spokesman for Crist declined to comment on the new film.

These days, Crist is considered persona non grata within the GOP. From top party officials on down to grassroots conservative activists, he is seen as a self-interested flip-flopper who left his party when it suited him politically in 2010.

In Romney-world, the aversion to Crist dates back even earlier, to that January evening in 2008 when campaign officials said he broke his word.

“Dem or Republican, I’ll do whatever I can to bury that iguana,” said Will Ritter, a former Romney aide and GOP consultant. “For as long as I live. For free.”


Filed under: Charlie Crist • Mitt Romney
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    This is nothing but a republican smear campaign. But anyway, thanks for giving us insight on republican politics. FYI republicans, Crist is now a democrat. He'll have all of our full support in unseating that Medicare fraudster Rick Scott.

    January 21, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. Wake up People!

    Good lord Tagg. Grow up. Wasn't it you that said your daddy didn't even want to be POTUS??

    I've never seen so much talk about a loser. But when you think of who he lost to, I can see why people can't let it go.

    Romney lost. Get over it GOP.

    January 21, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Good luck, Charlie. God bless!!!
    PS: make FL democratic.

    January 21, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. Tampa Tim

    The billionaire brothers will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to swift boat Crist. They want the Medicaid scammer, Scott, to win reelection. So far they have millions on negative ads against Crist and he still leads in the polls 47-41.

    January 21, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. just saying

    charlie crist is just a sleazy politician that is only interested in one thing, doing what is right for charlie crist. these types should never ever be trusted with positions of power.

    January 21, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. Donna

    Well, Crist sure comes off looking like a horrible dishonest person. No wonder he is running as a Democrat. No doubt he feels right at home.

    January 21, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. Sasha

    "These days, Crist is considered persona non grata within the GOP. From top party officials on down to grassroots conservative activists, he is seen as a self-interested flip-flopper who left his party when it suited him politically in 2010."

    Curious complaint considering that Crist's refusal to flip-flop and become a fire-breathing Tea person is what cost him the GOP primary against Rubio and led to his disaffection with the Republican party.

    Hell, if Crist hadn't already left, a RINO like him would have been pushed out of the GOP big tent long ago.

    January 21, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  8. PaulCat

    The people in the USA are very stupid people. They just can't see the problems the republicans cause their own country. You people really need to wake-up. You really do!!!! To say you love your country (flag) it seams you hate one man more then you love the USA.

    January 21, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. Deborah Tomlinson

    Charlie Crist- viper or weasel? Florida voters, you decide!

    Just what FL Dems need-a candidate w/the personal integrity & loyalty of say, John Edwards.

    January 21, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Since we're talking Florida politics, why no story on republican Joshua Black of Florida who stated yesterday that the President should be executed?

    January 21, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. FLMom

    I almost feel sorry for the Republican Party, and then I read articles such as this one and I'm reminded of how nasty, bitter, and sanctamonious they are, and I don't. It's politics, boys. Put on your big boy pants, admit your candidates and your platforms suck, and work to change that, instead of slinging mud.

    January 21, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. Malory Archer

    Deborah Tomlinson

    Charlie Crist- viper or weasel? Florida voters, you decide!

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

    He's head and shoulders above the medicare thief whose currently stinking up the Governors Mansion.

    January 21, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    What Dutch??? OMG, how far will the Party of family values go???? Isn't that treason?

    January 21, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  14. it must be said

    As my daddy used to say..."A man who doesn't keep his word ain't worth the powder to blow him ot hell."

    January 21, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  15. rs

    More Romney whining. At this rate he'll always find ways of explaining why he lost- except the most obvious one.

    January 21, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. just asking

    charlie crist is a snake no matter what his party label is. if he has a reputation for dishonsty and not keeping his word when dealing with others then how the heck can he do his job if elected? nobody will trust him.

    January 21, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  17. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    @ Wake up People

    Google "Republican Joshua Black"

    January 21, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    Yawn. Wake me if that stupid movie gets any viewers in the first place, let alone any viewers who aren't GOP/Teatroll true-believers carrying a grudge about Crist while munching sour grapes over Mittens' (and their own) failures.

    January 21, 2014 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. Gurgyl

    @just asking–who doesn't have dishonesty? Are Reagan, Bush,Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeild dishonest? If they were honesty–USA would have surplus, with Healthcare Law passage, oil independent etc.

    January 21, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  20. TONY

    @just asking

    charlie crist is a snake no matter what his party label is. if he has a reputation for dishonsty and not keeping his word when dealing with others then how the heck can he do his job if elected? nobody will trust him.

    You name any Republikkklan that is not a weasel, and a viper clowns

    January 21, 2014 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. Ol' Yeller

    Hey, justsaying/donna... singing a different tune now that he has a D behind his name. If it were still an R you'd be singing his praises from the highest mountains.
    These actions took place in a republicant primary and Crist picked the lesser of two evils and who really cares. They were both losers, they both lost their respective bids for office and frankly it is a good thing for America they did. I will never ever ever forgive McCain for bringing that scourge of a running mate into my living room, and romney... if you even thought about voting for that egomaniacal robot programmed by the corporate slavers then we can't help you on here and you may need to seek assistance elsewhere... I'd start with strong meds were I you.

    January 21, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  22. Thomas

    Charlie Crist's is half the sleaze of Rick Scott !

    Where has Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz been ?

    January 21, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. Tampa Tim

    Ronnie Raygun was a democrat, then left for the dark side of politics, the GOP.

    January 21, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    “Charlie Crist had promised my dad multiple times that he was going to stay neutral,” he says. “He talked to many people on our campaign and he promised them all he was going to stay neutral. And now he has announced he is going to endorse John McCain. Now it's two days before the election. This is a big deal. It’s a tight race, and it’s probably enough to tip it in McCain’s favor.”

    Cry me a river, Tagg Romney.

    January 21, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. current state of the union

    Well one things for sure, its easy to see why it helps to be an attorney if you go gop, you'll likely need it. Dont have any facts to back that do you saying, of course not republicans dont need proof, they just make it up as they go. That's why they have difficulties assigning value to real evidence, they seldom require it. Yup, your a sad one, impervious to truth and logic, and never have any proof to back your relentless yapping, truly feel sorry for you dude, just saying of course.

    January 21, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
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