Does Florida's campaign trail extend to Cuba?
May 7th, 2014
02:35 PM ET
6 months ago

Does Florida's campaign trail extend to Cuba?

(CNN) - Charlie Crist's bid to return to the Florida governor's office in Tallahassee may take him through Havana.

The former Republican governor of Florida, now running as a Democrat for his old office, is considering a trip to Cuba this summer, according to his campaign. Such a visit to the communist island nation, which is Florida's neighbor to the south, would have been unheard of by a statewide politician a few years ago.

Complete coverage: 2014 midterms

Crist's campaign says the former governor wants to visit Cuba to learn more about the country. In February Crist announced his support for lifting the longtime U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, a policy shift indicative of how far the former Republican has moved since switching parties.

"The embargo has done nothing in fifty years to change the regime in Cuba or end the suffering of the Cuban people. Governor Crist is exploring every opportunity to help bring economic freedom and democracy to the people of Cuba," said Crist campaign spokesman Kevin Cate.

Recent polling in the Sunshine State indicates majority support for lifting the embargo, even among the state's sizable and influential Cuban-American community.

"I think it's smart for Crist to be exploring a trip to Cuba. Majorities of Floridians including Cuban Americans want to move towards normalizing ties with the island nation. Younger Cuban Americans who are outnumbering their older counterparts in voting, don't have the same visceral reaction their grandparents had to opening ties with their native country," said Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, a CNN contributor.

But that opinion's not shared by Republican strategist Ana Navarro, who is very critical of Crist.

"Nothing surprises me from the silver-haired chameleon. Charlie Crist has run with three different party affiliations in the last four years in Florida," said the CNN contributor, who is a veteran of numerous campaigns in Florida. "Maybe he comes back from Cuba as a member of a fourth party, the Communists."

Key races to watch in 2014

Crist, the all-but-certain Democratic gubernatorial nominee, is expected to face off this November against GOP Gov. Rick Scott, who faces a challenging re-election. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted late last month indicated Crist is leading Scott 48%-38% among registered voters. But a survey from Mason Dixon Polling and Research conducted in mid-April had the two candidates deadlocked at 42% among likely general election voters.

Republican to Democrat

Crist, then a Republican, was elected governor of Florida in 2006. In March of 2009, Crist announced he would run for an open U.S. Senate seat in 2010 rather than for a second term as governor.

While he started out as the overwhelming frontrunner to win the GOP Senate nomination, his hugging of President Barack Obama at a February 2009 event in Florida to promote federal stimulus spending came back to hurt him with conservatives.

After falling way behind former state lawmaker and onetime longshot candidate Marco Rubio in the race for the Republican nomination, Crist left the GOP in April 2010 and continued his Senate bid as an independent candidate. He ended up losing a three-way general election battle to Rubio, who became a star among conservatives.

In 2012 Crist endorsed Obama's re-election campaign, and at the end of that year he formally became a Democrat.

Crist's possible trip to Cuba was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.


Filed under: 2014 • Charlie Crist • Cuba • Florida • Rick Scott
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. just asking

    he's just returning home to see his best buds, raul and fidel.

    May 7, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. Tommy G

    The Castro boys are top advisers to the Democrat Party. He's just going there for some more advise on how to move the Demorcat Party all the way to the left so they can drop the fascade.

    May 7, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  3. Rick in OP

    Charlie Crist has absolutely no credibility whatsoever. Lets hear him explain away all of the money he took from the NRA when ran for Governor the first time in 2006. I still see those old, beat up pickup trucks in Florida with "SPORTSMEN FOR CRIST" bumper stickers; that was the NRA campaign to help get him elected over the Democrat he was running against.
    A debate with Crist should be interesting. He knows all of the issues because he has now been on both sides of every issue you can imagine. After he was beaten by Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate, Crist aligned himself with a big ambulance chasing law firm in Florida so he could keep his face on billboards.
    All Crist stands for is getting himself elected. Democrats should be careful, he has already been a Republican and an Independent. There is nothing to prevent him from being a Republican again.

    May 7, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Cuba is not a threat to America , Fox News is .

    Rupert Murdoch, has many business interests. ... According to the LA Times, Murdoch had his son James, now in charge of News Corp. ... OF MONEY IN COMMUNIST CUBA: Despite a U.S. embargo of communist Cuba

    May 7, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    What does Sen. Rubio think about this trip? Better yet, does he believe the embargo should be lifted?

    May 7, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. Hector Slagg

    Crist does appear to be a political opportunist fudging the truth from time to time. Of course you can paint Obama with the same brush.

    May 7, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    ""The embargo has done nothing in fifty years to change the regime in Cuba or end the suffering of the Cuban people. "

    In fact, it helped solidify Castro's hold over the country and has caused the Cuban people immeasurable suffering. But that's OK, Crist, we understand...you have to sugar coat it for the MSM and the ex-pat Cuban plutocrats living in South Florida.

    May 7, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "All Crist stands for is getting himself elected. Democrats should be careful, he has already been a Republican and an Independent. There is nothing to prevent him from being a Republican again."

    According to him, there is: the GOP/Teatrolls' racism. He was pretty explicit in eh past week about that being a major factor in why he left the party.

    May 7, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. TONE

    Tommy G

    The Castro boys are top advisers to the Democrat Party. He's just going there for some more advise on how to move the Demorcat Party all the way to the left so they can drop the fascade.

    Funny that you said that isn't putin the new boss of the republikkklan party? after all you right wingers praised him for standing up to your USA.

    May 7, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. Rick in OP

    @Sniffit
    According to him, there is: the GOP/Teatrolls' racism. He was pretty explicit in eh past week about that being a major factor in why he left the party.
    ---–
    Yep, throw the racism card. When your position is indefensible, always throw the racism card. A tactic used by losers everywhere.
    The reason he left the party is because he could not get elected as Republican. Then he became an Independent. When he found out he could not get elected as an Independent, he became a Democrat. If Democrats want him, you can have him.

    May 7, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. Harold Read

    Cater to illegal immigrants?
    Anything for a vote!

    We should all follow Melowese Richardson's fine example: Vote early! Vote often!

    May 7, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. just saying

    Sniffit
    ""The embargo has done nothing in fifty years to change the regime in Cuba or end the suffering of the Cuban people. "
    In fact, it helped solidify Castro's hold over the country and has caused the Cuban people immeasurable suffering. But that's OK, Crist, we understand...you have to sugar coat it for the MSM and the ex-pat Cuban plutocrats living in South Florida.
    --

    ohh, so it has been the usa causing all of the pain for the cuban people all these years. thanks for clarifying that. all this time i had thought it was the brutal communist regime that fidel castro forced on the cuban people.

    why am i not surprised you make up excuses for your comrade fidel and blame this country?

    May 7, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. Tony D

    And after he loses this election, he will run as a Whig in the next one.... Come on, this guy is a joke. He's another Anthony Weiner, hooked on the power and limelight. The WORSE kind of person for the job.

    May 7, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |