May 2nd, 2010
06:14 PM ET
12 years ago

'I'm much happier now,' Crist says

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Gov. Crist was surrounded by supporters last week as he announced that he will skip the Republican Senate primary and run as an unaffiliated candidate in November's election."]
(CNN) – Florida Gov. Charlie Crist told the National Review Online that he is much happier now that he has decided to skip the Republican primary as he campaigns to become the state’s next senator. In a separate interview broadcast Sunday, Crist left open the possibility that he would align himself with Democrats in the Senate, if elected in November.

Crist credited Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, for helping him make his recent decision to skip the GOP Senate primary in Florida and, instead, run as a non-party-affiliated candidate in the midterm election.

Lieberman, who lost the Democratic primary in 2006 but went on to win re-election as a self-described independent Democrat, told Crist that his unaffiliated candidacy was “liberating,” the Florida governor said in an interview with the National Review.

“'He was right. I’m much happier now, to be perfectly candid,’” Crist said to the conservative publication.

Related: Lieberman opens up about becoming an independent

Crist, who appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, would not rule out following in Lieberman’s footsteps and joining with Senate Democrats for organizing purposes.

“I’ll caucus with the people of Florida,” Crist said when asked whether he would caucus with Republicans if elected to the Senate.

Pressed on the issue, Crist added, “Well, when I'm independent, I'm going to do what I think is in the best interests of my people. And that's my decision. And that's what I'm going to do for Floridians. And that's what people want.”

In a similar vein, Crist said that he might also vote for a Democrat as Senate majority leader.

“I might not vote for either [a Democrat or a Republican]. You know, I'm going to vote for who I think would be best for the people of Florida. And if that happens to be a Democrat, so be it. If it happens to be a Republican, so be it,” the Florida governor said.

And Crist tried to stake out a position on the political spectrum relative to his two lead opponents, Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio.

“We've got candidates, now, in this race, one that's on the hard right, in Speaker Rubio, one that's on the hard left, in Congressman Meek,” said Crist.

Related: Rubio depicts himself as conservative with mainstream policies

The governor described himself as the more moderate choice compared to Rubio and Meek adding “and then you've got a common-sense guy, right down the middle, that wants to represent the people of the state and do what's right.”

Related: Meek lays out planned attacks against Rubio, Crist

He added, “It's not right versus left. This is about right versus wrong.”

Crist acknowledged that it will be an uphill battle to run for the Senate without the support of the Republican Party, but added the backing his campaign has received from teachers has given him a boost.

“That really inspired me,” said Crist, who recently vetoed a bill opposed by teachers. “And while it's an uphill battle, I'm encouraged.”

Filed under: 2010 • Charlie Crist • Extra • Florida • Popular Posts
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Lydia

    I bet Crist can breathe easier!

    I feel sorry for Republicans. All Repubs are stifled by group-think that is so pervasive no Republican can have an independent thought. If you hear one speak, you hear them all speak because all responses are Republican talking points. You would think they all Republican politicans lived in Stepford!

    It has to be quiterepressive being a Republican now. Politicans must work to earn a living and right now it is political suicide for a Repub to think and speak outside of the narrow, ultra-conservative box they are encased themselves.

    Too bad. So sad!

    May 2, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  2. Edwin

    I hope he wins...

    May 2, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  3. Charlie in Maine

    So am I sir. If you win that's one fewer GOPer in the way of progress. Since you have broken the chains of the neo-reactionary GOP even if you lose a man of your talent (and wisdom in dumping the party of Linbaugh) might find yourself with a cabinet position mid term. Best of luck.

    May 2, 2010 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  4. proud conservative

    I'm much happier that you are gone too Charlie! It's RINOS like you that have ruined the GOP. Good riddance.

    May 2, 2010 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  5. Ex-republican

    And, to be honest, we are happu , too!
    This is from ex-republican, proud to be democrat now! Let's see how is Rubio doing in november?

    May 2, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  6. AZ Senior

    Perhaps this is the way of the future. A candidate would not be beholden to either party, and the bonus would be waning of all this polarizing toxic wrangling and return of some civility.

    May 2, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  7. Shocked

    Good for you Governor Crist! I wish you the very best in your run for Senate. Maybe more politicians ought to go independent.

    May 2, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  8. ip

    May God have mercy on each one of us !

    May 2, 2010 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  9. Lilarose in So. Oregon

    Well, Charlie, I could have told you all that Lieberman told you.

    I am just a voter. In Oregon, not Florida, of course.

    I was a Democrat since JFK, now I am an Independent, but I still vote as a liberal.

    Being a liberal is liberating for your thinking processes.

    May 2, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
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