December 10th, 2012
08:25 PM ET
10 years ago

Crist on party-switch: GOP has become 'strident and more difficult'

(CNN) - Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist explained Monday his recent switch to the Democratic Party, saying the GOP has become "less tolerant (and) less welcoming."

"I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me," Crist said on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," repeating a line he used at the Democratic National Convention. "Issue after issue they seem to get more strident and more difficult."

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Crist tweeted Friday night a photo of himself at the White House holding voter registration paperwork and wrote, "Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President @BarackObama!"

He served as a Republican when he was governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011. He later ran for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010, but failed to capture the GOP nomination and ran as an independent, instead. Republican Marco Rubio ultimately won the Florida contest.

Crist re-inserted himself into the national spotlight when he endorsed President Barack Obama this cycle, a move that came as little surprise to Florida Republicans who watched him campaign for Obama's re-election bid and back Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida.

His decision to change parties could be seen as an early step toward another run for governor. Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, is currently in his first term and is up for re-election in 2014.

In the Monday interview, Crist said he was frustrated with the Republican Party's tone on immigration, education and voter ID laws this last election year, though he did not delve deep into specifics.

"Each and every one of these issues really was counter to my values that my mother and father raised me on and the kind of ethic that we believe in–that we should be a tolerant people, a welcoming people, and try to have a big tent as a party, rather than try to shrink things," he said, adding that both of his parents are still Republicans.

Crist quoted another former Republican governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, who made headlines in June when he argued President Ronald Reagan may have a hard time getting along with many in the current political climate.

"I think the leadership of the party today has moved into a direction, even as Jeb Bush said not long ago, that probably it would be difficult for Ronald Reagan to succeed in today's Republican Party," Crist said.

- CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

Filed under: Charlie Crist • Florida • TV-Piers Morgan
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S.F.

    We need to make sure Crist beats our unindicted Medicare scammer Rick Scott. Crist for governor in 2014.

    December 10, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  2. Ancient Texan

    Republican, then Independent, now Democrat.......No Charlie, the GOP didn't leave you, face it nobody wants you! The Libertarians won't elect you either.

    December 10, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  3. Bugl3t

    Good for you, sir. There's nothing moderate about today's Republican party. Hope you run for the Senate or House, though... where your moderate stance could do the most good.

    December 10, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  4. MaryM

    Welcome Charlie. Now get to work and get the TeaPeople out of Florida and Rick Scott. We will be overjoyed to have you as Gov of Florida again

    December 10, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |

    Hey, Crist! Nobody told you the GOP is the American Taliban? Where have you been the last 12 years?

    December 10, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  6. Squigman

    The republican party has become intolerant, misguided, hateful, racist, and just plain ignorant in their view of what's needed in the United States. At this point it would be awfully hard to vote for any republican candidate. When republicans attain power of office they do all they can to take advantage of working people. No One needs this kind of "leadership".

    December 10, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  7. Larry L

    Americans will discover the Democratic Party to be more accommodating and tolerant – not only of progressive viewpoints but of centrists as well. Charlie Christ will make strong contributions to the Democrats – something Jon Huntsman should consider as well.

    December 11, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  8. Max

    Oh, steal a line from Reagan why don't you? This guy's as phoney as his artifically manufactured suntan.

    December 11, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  9. CraigRB

    Ronald Reagan actually said the same thing but it was in regards to the Democratic party and you know today, Ronald Reagan would no doubt be leaving the Republican party.

    December 11, 2012 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  10. Ind.

    Now Obama is showing his true self. No compromise Obama is here for the next 4 years, like it or not.

    December 11, 2012 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  11. Ind.

    It's not like Obama has ever compromised before, he's just making it public now is all.

    December 11, 2012 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  12. Dave in Arizona

    I'm just glad the Republicans didn't win the White House. A victory there would have only emboldened them, validated these modern traits, and made them impossible to deal with for years to come. Now, instead, and for the good of America, they're having something of a passive civil war; a sole searching to reconcile the extreme from the moderate. They had a similar opportunity after the 2008 election... I just hope they come out better this time.

    December 11, 2012 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    Welcome, hope you can get back the governorship of Florida, you should have a good chance as others like rubio and Jeb will all be thinking Presidential runs.
    It would however have meant more to me ( an Ideoendent) as a voter ( not in Florida) if you had remained Independent and democratic leaning if you wish.

    December 11, 2012 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Well, there you have it. The GOP needs to do some serious soul searching in order to stay relevant and progress in the future. The country is changing. No doubt about it. Republicans may need to become a little less conservative in order to have a solid future. But that would be unnatural.

    December 11, 2012 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  15. James in Houaton

    Hmmm ... I see a setup for 2016

    December 11, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  16. Marie MD

    Next governor of Florida.
    The repugs, I don't care how many of them say they need to change, will NEVER change. They are the party of akin and pau and randp and mourdock and the mutant from AK.
    They want smaller government unless the government is telling women, gays, Blacks, Latinos, seniors, young people and the disable how to run their lives!
    It's going to take decades to switch their thinking and I truly doubt they can. It's "reality" TV but a Survivor member was a white young gay man from Alabama (if I recall) he was hated by his family for being gay but he was a rethug to the end. With that kind of thinking they have a long way to go and I doubt they will ever reach the end of the line ever.

    December 11, 2012 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  17. king

    the repubs party of every one get their own stuff and do what ever they please with it, will not serve this country well, in the long run. we need to work together as the united states not as individuals. lesson folks, America is too expensive for businesses to make money, this is why they are pooring into china to avoid American middle class wages. if we don't stick together to solve this problem, the rich will keep vacuuming out money from economy, and building china up and leaving us behind. weve got to work together, and stop this individual do what you want movement pushed by the republicans, Christ is right to switch, and try to work as a team, before its too late.

    December 11, 2012 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  18. clarke

    Well, you don't say. They are like jello on a wall, you can't pin them down..

    December 11, 2012 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  19. Matte

    The majority of politically correct people all side with Charlie Crist. My own brother in-law can no longer vote for the Republican party that he grew up supporting, commenting this party is not my party any longer. Republican party lost interest in the middle class of America and only supports the minority ultra rich 2 percent who dont care about the future of America. Big profit, give everything to support the rich and cut all the middle class programs to pay for all the rich tax cuts. Same policies that have cause the American crisis and will continue to slow the growth of the future America.

    December 11, 2012 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    That is a cop out.

    He simply goes where he can gain political advantage for himself.

    December 11, 2012 07:47 am at 7:47 am |