TAMPA, Fla. — Switching sides is always awkward in politics. But Charlie Crist’s endorsement of President Obama Sunday puts Florida’s former Republican governor in opposition to his party on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
That’s a whole different level of cold.
And Republicans are dropping bombs on the man many thought had a future on the national GOP stage in the same manner that Democrats recently blasted one of their own.
“Make no mistake about it: This is Charlie Crist trying to shed his skin for a political comeback,” wrote Florida GOP Chairman Lenny Curry in an e-mail to Florida Republicans.
How do political parties excoriate their Judas-es? In short, by questioning the heretic’s sincerity by citing the individual’s past statements whacking the newly favored political team.
“Calling him a liberal will only play into his hand,” Mr. Curry wrote. “He hopes it will divert attention away from his record and his years of calling himself a Conservative. You should take every opportunity with the media to remind Floridians that Crist has made a career out of bashing the Democrat Party and everything President Obama stands for.”
In addition to several examples that Curry noted — Mr. Crist urging a Democratic congressman to vote against the health-care reform law and Crist signing a petition calling for a ban on gay marriage and civil unions — there are hits by Democrats themselves portraying Crist as a conservative. Consider an advertisement cut by his Democratic challenger in the 2010 Senate race, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) of Florida.
Crist had been routed in the GOP primary by eventual winner Sen. Marco Rubio (R), but went forward in the Senate race by mounting a campaign as an independent. With Crist threatening to siphon moderate Democratic voters from Representative Meek, Meek cut an ad with quotes from Crist professing his stance as a “pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax Republican” who was “impressed” by Sen. John McCain of Arizona’s selection of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on the GOP presidential ticket in 2008.