August 29th, 2010
09:32 AM ET
12 years ago

Crist looks for middle ground between two opponents

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption =" Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is trying to find the middle road in his independent bid for the U.S. Senate."](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:

Crist came under fire Friday after he told an Orlando television station that he would have voted for President Obama's health care bill, only to issue a statement immediately after the interview that said he "misspoke" and would have voted against the legislation. The immediate flip-flop drew equally quick fire from both of his opponents - Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a Republican.

In his interview with CNN's Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry, who was filling in for Candy Crowley, Crist reaffirmed that he would have voted against the bill, but stopped short of calling for its repeal - something he called for in March and something Rubio has consistently called for since launching his campaign.

"What we need to do is we need to fix it and we need to go forward," Crist said. "This is about doing what's right for the people, this election is about the future."

Crist has been more consistent on the issue of same-sex marriage. The Senate candidate supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but said he is tolerant of gay and lesbian couples.

"When it comes to marriage, I think it is a sacred institution, I believe it is between a man and a woman," Crist said, "but partners living together, you know, I don't have a problem with it."

"It's just how I feel," he added.

In 2008, Crist told CNN's "American Morning" that he thought then-vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin "would do a great job" if she had to run the country. Crist's present thoughts on the matter were markedly different.

"Doesn't really matter," he said when asked if he felt the same way about Palin today.

"I'm not going to issue a statement on Sarah," Crist added.

Crist did make entirely clear the fact that he believes the federal government's economic stimulus has been a success in his state. He said, "the math is not hard to figure out."

"After we got the [stimulus] money, that helped us save or create 20,000 jobs in education alone - a total of about 80,000 jobs that otherwise we wouldn't have right now," Crist said. "In other words [...] the unemployment rate would be even higher than it is without that help."

According to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted August 11-16, Crist, who is running as an independent candidate, holds a 39 percent to 32 percent lead over Republican candidate Marco Rubio.

Rep. Kendrick Meek, who secured the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, trails the two front-runners with 16 percent. The poll carried a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: 2010 • Charlie Crist • Florida
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Jay Mohr

    When Crist double-talks that he'd "caucus with the people of Florida" one has to assume that would be the Democrats, since Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is the only other person/people from Florida in the Senate.

    August 29, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. Keith in Austin

    The Independent Voters will ultimately decide. Thankfully Meek doesn't have a chance. The Jewish vote in S. Fla that typically votes Democrat cannot support Obama's foreign policy that is seemingly pro-Muslim. The protection of Israel is a high priority for them (and most Americans) but Bozo has shown his true colors!

    August 29, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. Homer

    crist is the newest flip flopper. He will say anything to continue to draw a government check. Switching sides on the health care deformity bill and changing from Republican to Independent after saying he was not leaving the party. He is just another Rep spectre in drag.

    August 29, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  4. Joe

    If your still looking for your position at this stage of the game there is a problem!!!!! Just admit it your a Christocrat!!!

    August 29, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  5. Merana

    The Democrats/Republicans are all the problem...big governement, big spending, entitlements, tax, tax, spend, spend...

    The media is massively to blame in their blatant coverup of any alternatives;

    Our family is voting for Libertarian Alex Snitker...look him up and learn what the media and top parties are hiding.
    Why will they show Crist, an Independent, and no one else? ANYONE who qualifies to get on our ballot DESERVES media coverage.

    August 29, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. Chris

    It's great to see someone trying to seek the middle ground in these times. The Republicans, in particular, reject any sense of moderation and are completely opposed to cooperation.

    August 29, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. vic

    Republicans don’t get it now they lost good candidate watch GPS how Immigrants helping Canada very soon big companies will start their business in Canada

    Republicans tax break won’t help , if you give tax break to rich they will say thanks and export our jobs where they can make more profit

    August 29, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. Matt Thomas

    We need real Americans in Washington. Not the same old people who are lining their own pockets and virtually sending a wrecking ball through the constitution.
    Floridians, check out Alex Snitker. The media won't tell you he's on the ballot. The polls won't show his name, but we need a guy like this to help protect the republic from the career politicians that the media endorses.

    August 29, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. jim

    Crist is one of Obama biggest supporters.

    August 29, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  10. Russell

    Any way you look at it there was allot of people there. The message is clear and it's up the the conservative Christian to act and take back America. It can be done but people need to act on it now. If Christians would get out and vote and vote there convictions they could determine
    who our elected leaders will be.

    August 29, 2010 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  11. TCM

    Crist is an enemy of the hardworking taxpayer...he's totally in bed with the OBama agenda...he needs to fade away...

    August 29, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  12. Ancient Texan

    Is this turn-coat looking for another party to bolt to? He's beginning to look a lot like a progressive democrat. Whoa..they already have a candidate.

    August 29, 2010 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  13. Russell

    Crist has not been a good govenor for Florida! He stripped the high school grads of ther scholarships they worked four years to earn. He has raped the school systems and don't care how many college students he has harmed. All he is interested in is his political caeer.
    If he cant support Forida as Govenor how can he do it as a senator. He will just be another Washington profesional politician. Vote him out of office and elect someone that will rally work for Florida.

    August 29, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |