(CNN) – Charlie Crist, the Republican-turned-Democrat who is running for governor in Florida, echoed former Gov. Jeb Bush in describing what he characterizes as an extremist turn in the GOP.
"I think I'll quote Jeb Bush. He said it better than I ever could. Today's Republican Party, at least the leadership, is perceived as being anti-women, anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-education, anti-gay couples, anti-environment," Crist said Wednesday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Live."
"Pretty soon, there's nobody left in the room," he added.
A potential 2016 presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, who preceded Crist as governor of Florida, has said the GOP needs to alter a perception that it is the party of opposition.
"Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker, and the list goes on and on and on," Bush said, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference last year. "I'm here to tell you there is no 'us' or 'them.' The face of the Republican Party needs to be the face of every American, and we need to be the party of inclusion and acceptance."
Crist, who was the governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican, announced in December of 2012 that he had become a registered Democrat. In 2010, Crist ran for an open U.S. Senate seat as an independent, losing to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
Crist is battling incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott for his old job in a high-profile race that has drawn considerable national attention.
Recent polls show Crist leading Scott by single-digit margins. A survey conducted by the University of Florida released Wednesday showed Crist leading Scott 47% to 40%. The results are similar to a poll released last week showing Crist with an eight-point lead over Scott.
Sixty-three percent of respondents approved of Crist's time as governor, compared to the 45% who approved of Scott's tenure. Crist's advantage, however, has narrowed since last year, when he led Scott by double digits.
The former governor, whose party switch has prompted scrutiny of his evolving positions on issues, called the welcome he received from Democrats in Florida "remarkable.”
Crist also discussed his newly released memoir "The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat."
The University of Florida poll of 1,006 registered Florida voters was conducted from January 27 through February 1. The survey has a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.