Crist controversy resurfaces in new Netflix film
January 21st, 2014
02:15 PM ET
9 years ago

Crist controversy resurfaces in new Netflix film

Washington (CNN) - A buzzy new political documentary coming to Netflix won't do much to heal Charlie Crist's reputation as an unprincipled, say-anything politician.

“Mitt,” debuting on Netflix this Friday, chronicles Mitt Romney’s two campaigns for the White House with intimate behind-the-scenes footage and candid interviews with the candidate and his family.

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While the film largely glosses over the 2012 Republican nomination battles, it chronicles many of the twists and turns of the 2008 primary fight – including Crist’s surprising last-minute endorsement of John McCain just two days before the Florida primary.

That was back when Crist was the state’s Republican governor. Today, after quitting the GOP during an ill-fated 2010 Senate bid, he is running for the same seat - but as a Democrat.

The campaigns of McCain, Romney and Rudy Giuliani had all courted Crist aggressively before the 2008 primary. His endorsement of McCain, who was leading slightly in the polls at that point in the race, was galling to Giuliani and Romney.

The Giuliani campaign later claimed that Crist had outright promised to support the former New York City mayor before betraying him down the final stretch. Some members of the Romney campaign said Crist had also issued them the same pledge.

Crist defended his decision at the time, saying it was a “gut call.”

The documentary captures the exact moment Romney finds out about Crist’s endorsement. An anguished-looking Romney, wearing a golf shirt and slumped in his hotel room chair, is informed of the news by phone.

In the next shot, his son Tagg delivers the back story straight to camera.

“Charlie Crist had promised my dad multiple times that he was going to stay neutral,” he says. “He talked to many people on our campaign and he promised them all he was going to stay neutral. And now he has announced he is going to endorse John McCain. Now it's two days before the election. This is a big deal. It’s a tight race, and it’s probably enough to tip it in McCain’s favor.”

Romney complains that Crist lacked the courtesy just to call and offer a heads up.

“You do something like this, you call and say, ‘Look I made a decision,” Romney says. “By the way, we have all talked to him and we said, are you going to endorse somebody? And he said no.”

McCain went on to win the primary, and Romney soon dropped out of the Republican race. A spokesman for Crist declined to comment on the new film.

These days, Crist is considered persona non grata within the GOP. From top party officials on down to grassroots conservative activists, he is seen as a self-interested flip-flopper who left his party when it suited him politically in 2010.

In Romney-world, the aversion to Crist dates back even earlier, to that January evening in 2008 when campaign officials said he broke his word.

“Dem or Republican, I’ll do whatever I can to bury that iguana,” said Will Ritter, a former Romney aide and GOP consultant. “For as long as I live. For free.”

Filed under: Charlie Crist • Mitt Romney
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Dumbas[R]ocks

    Lot's of bad news for the [R] party of Teatards these days.

    And even on the one CNN thread where the story highlites [R]s' attempts to go on the offensive with their anti-choice zealotry {"First on CNN: GOP urges candidates to stand ground on abortion"}, the apologists and followers of the [R] malignancy are intellectually decimated by a tide of posts from thoughtful citizens...and so even here, on this one issue where it thinks it can gain some political traction, the [R] party recoils yet again in another public humilation.

    January 21, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. Wake up People!

    Thanks Dutch. I did just that. And all I saw was another Allen West/Herman Cain type, who has no idea what he has gotten himself into. But he's about to find out because many of his GOP brothers and sisters are running away from him and that statement. He's about to find out, even though he has an R after his name, he's still just another one of us.

    January 21, 2014 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. The REAL Truth...

    @Donna – Well, Crist sure comes off looking like a horrible dishonest person. No wonder he is running as a Democrat. No doubt he feels right at home.
    Seems to me that this fits either party... do you really get paid for this holier-than-thou approach from the right?

    January 21, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. Ol' Yeller

    "charlie crist is a snake no matter what his party label is. if he has a reputation for dishonsty and not keeping his word when dealing with others ..."

    We understand this got him the backing of the republicant party... what happened? Did it turn out he was not a snake and the rumors about his dishonesty turned out not to be true? I know that normally one becomes labelled a RINO when it is discovered they do not have a propensity to lie, cheat, and steal... with causes a conundrum with christie.
    Now you have a guy who for all purposes appears to be quite the liar, bully, and a masterful cover up artist. Yet you guys didn't think he was republicant material... the question I guess is... how much money is the RNC willing to fork over to defend him, especially if the investigation starts indicating he really didn't know anything? I'm thinking if it looks like he is truly going to be exonerated and is in fact a worthless tub of lard who had no clue what is going on, the money will be cut off. However, if he is in fact a lying thug who petuantly bullied Dems over the most minor of infractions.... the money will never stop coming.

    January 21, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "“Charlie Crist had promised my dad multiple times that he was going to stay neutral,.....[etc]"

    If the Romney family isn't a living, breathing, walking slideshow of "First World Problems" posters waiting to happen, I don't know what is.

    January 21, 2014 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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