Bradenton, Florida (CNN) – Hoping to capitalize on voter discontent with both political parties, Charlie Crist launched two new statewide television ads Monday casting himself as an independent voice who will take "the best ideas" from both parties.
But one of the new ads is a clear appeal to Democrats, a slice of the electorate Crist must tap into if he has any hopes of capturing a U.S. Senate seat in November.
The ad, "Cross the Line," shows Crist walking along the Florida shoreline and touting his veto against a teacher merit pay bill earlier this year, his support for stem cell research and his acceptance of federal stimulus money - all positions that have won him praise from Democrats and scorn from Republicans.
Lake Buena Vista, Florida (CNN) – There was supposed to be a $50 million elephant in the room when Rick Scott addressed an audience of Florida Republican elites on Friday as the party's gubernatorial nominee.
That's the amount Scott, formerly the CEO of the country's largest private health-care chain, shelled out during his four-month primary battle against Bill McCollum.
The race quickly spiraled into negativity as both candidates traded charges, mostly via the state's expensive television air waves, about each other's character. McCollum, still stinging, has not yet endorsed Scott.
But at the Florida GOP's quarterly meeting, held at a pair of Disney World hotels on Friday and Saturday, there was little outward resentment toward Scott, a first-time candidate who never toiled in the party trenches like McCollum and his party allies.
"There's incredible enthusiasm with all our candidates," asserted Republican Party of Florida chairman John Thrasher, who feuded publicly with Scott during the primary over a television ad criticizing the state party. "Rick Scott and I have a great relationship."
St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN) - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday called this weekend’s planned Quran burning in Gainesville “deplorable” but said there is little he can do to stop the protest.
“We have freedom of speech at work here, but I think common decency would dictate that this would not occur and that we would be respectful and are a respectful people of all religions,” Crist told reporters during a tour of a Veterans Affairs facility in St. Petersburg.
The governor said he had attempted to contact Pastor Terry Jones, the man behind the protest, to dissuade him from moving forward, but has so far been unsuccessful. He said he left messages with one of the church’s associate pastors, Stephanie Sapp.
(CNN) - Two of Florida's three Senate candidates are out Tuesday with their first television ads of the general election.
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who was elected as a Republican but is running as an independent candidate, literally walks the line between Democrat and Republican in his 30-second spot entitled "Best of Both."
"As an independent, I will take the best ideas of Democrats and Republicans to get things done," Crist says, as he picks up red and blue block letters spelling out the names of the two parties and rearranges them to spell "Americans."
The National Republican Senatorial Committee responded Tuesday to Crist's ad, which they call "hypocritical."
(CNN) – The highest ranking Democrat in Florida's state Senate on Thursday endorsed Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist in his bid for the U.S. Senate.
In doing so, Florida state Senate Democratic Leader Al Lawson passed on an opportunity to endorse fellow Democrat, Rep. Kendrick Meek.
Lawson, known as the "Dean of the Legislature" for his tenure as the longest serving member of Florida's state Senate, is the only African-American state senator from North Florida; Meek is Florida's first ever African-American U.S. Senate nominee.
"Florida desperately needs an independent senator in Washington who will fight for good jobs and economic opportunity, a quality education for every child, and Social Security for all of our seniors regardless of what the political party bosses want," Lawson said in a statement. "Charlie Crist will be exactly that Senator, and I am proud to endorse his candidacy."
(CNN) - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist appeared to backtrack from statements he made regarding same-sex marriage during a CNN interview Sunday, saying in a statement that he does not support a Constitutional ban on the practice.
The comments appear at odds with what the Florida Senate candidate told CNN's Ed Henry on State of the Union, during which he expressed continued support for a ban on same-sex marriage.
"I feel the same way, yes, because I feel that marriage is a sacred institution, if you will. But I do believe in tolerance. I'm a live and let live kind of guy, and while I feel that way about marriage, I think if partners want to have the opportunity to live together, I don't have a problem with that," said Crist when asked about his stance against same-sex marriage when he ran for governor four years ago.
"When it comes to marriage, I think it is a sacred institution. I believe it is between a man and woman, but partners living together, I don't have a problem with," added Crist, the former Republican-turned-Independent who is leading the three-way Senate race in most recent polls and is counting on significant support from Democratic and independent voters to eek out a victory.
In a statement released later Sunday, Crist said he in fact is against a Constitutional ban on same sex marriage and was instead only offering his support for a state ban on the practice.
"I was not discussing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage, which I do not support, but rather reaffirming my position regarding Florida's constitutional ban that I articulated while running for governor," he said in the statement.
Full transcript with Henry and Crist from Sunday, after the jump:
(CNN) – Two of the three candidates running for U.S. Senate in Florida said Sunday that they support the revival of an $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit, but the Obama administration’s housing chief said “it’s too early to say” whether it will be offered again.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan left the door open to extending the tax credit but said that the White House will be "focused like a laser" on stabilizing the housing market.
“All I can tell you is that we are watching [the housing market] very carefully,” Donovan said. “[…] we're going to do everything we can to make sure that this market stabilizes and recovers."
Republican-turned-independent Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said reviving the tax credit “would be a great lift” that “would stimulate the economy, it would increase home sales in Florida.”
Watch this portion of Ed Henry's interview with Crist, after the jump:
(CNN) - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was elected to office as a Republican, but without his former party's backing in the Sunshine State's Senate race, it's clear he is trying to position himself directly in between his Democratic and Republican rivals on the political spectrum.
In an interview that aired Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Crist straddled the line between the two parties on health care, same-sex marriage and Sarah Palin.
The governor also declined to say which party he would caucus with should he win election, repeating his oft-used maxim that he would "caucus with the people of Florida."
Crist would be ineligible to receive committee assignments and have far less power in the Senate if he chose not to caucus with one of the two major political parties. His decision of which party to side with could ultimately decide the balance of power in the Senate, which in turn would dictate the chamber's legislative agenda. When asked if Florida voters have a right to know which side he'd choose, Crist dodged the question.
"I think they know the way I'm going to go, I'm going to go the way that is best for them," Crist said. "[...] I don't have to say I'm going to caucus with the Democrats or the Republicans."
Watch key parts of Crist's extensive interview with Ed Henry, after the jump:
(CNN) - Florida Gov. Charlie Crist appeared to suggest Saturday that he would give money back to donors if they asked.
Crist spoke Saturday with CNN's Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry, who is filling in for Candy Crowley on State of the Union.
Crist told Henry, "we'll give it [campaign contributions] back to people who had asked for it."
The independent candidate seemed to hedge a moment later saying, "People gave money to a good cause, I'm going to spend it on a good cause and that's how I feel about it."
After failing to secure the GOP nomination for Senate, Crist was sharply criticized for refusing to refund contributions made to his campaign by Republicans.
Watch CNN's exclusive video after the jump:
(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said Friday he "misspoke" when he told a television interviewer that he would have voted for President Obama's health care reform package.
Crist, engaged in a three-way Senate race against Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek, had previously said he would have voted against the bill were he in Washington at the time.
In an interview Friday with Orlando TV station Central Florida News 13, Crist was asked: "Health care bill, how would you have voted on that?"
Crist responded, "I would have voted for it but I think it can be done better. I really do."
The remark was highlighted by Rubio advisers eager to paint the governor as flip-flopping opportunist. They called it the governor's "fifth position on ObamaCare."