Crist! Is He Really Backpedalling Again?
In an interview with an Orlando gay publication this Tuesday, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist apologized for his 2008 support of a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage -- just in time for his next run for political office.
"I’m sorry I did that. It was a mistake. I was wrong. Please forgive me," said Crist in a Watermark Online article. Crist said his previous statements against gay marriage and gay adoption were "politically expedient," adding, "it was wrong. That’s what I’m telling you. And I’m sorry."
The legislation, Amendment 2, was adopted and Florida’s constitution now bans same-sex marriage. Crist said that he was just "trying to be a good Republican" at the time. In his initial Senate run, he moved from Republican to Independent. After losing that 2010 U.S. Senate race as an Independent, Crist joined the Democratic Party in 2012.
And while as recently as 2010 Crist told CNN that he believed marriage was "a sacred institution between a man and a woman," in May 2013 he stated that he now supports gay marriage, as well as nondiscrimination protections in employment and adoption rights for LGBT people. He credits his switch in position to a perceived negative "anti" image of the Republican Party, from which he departed.
In November 2013, Crist declared that he will run for a second term as governor of The Sunshine State against Rep. incumbent Gov. Rick Scott. As Crist apologizes to LGBTs for his earlier stance, he is clearly courting the state’s growing liberal base. Crist’s Republican opponent, Marco Rubio, has repeatedly accused Crist of flip-flopping on key issues in an effort to win over moderate voters. But no one seems to mind.
Crist told Watermark’s Tom Dyer that he was much happier since he went through ’the change,’ noting that as a Republican, he always felt like "a round peg in a square hole" on social issues.
"My mom and dad raised us to love everyone, to be nice to everyone, to be kind to everyone for as long as you possibly can," Crist told Dyer. "So telling women what to do with their bodies, telling people who to love or who to marry... it’s not for me. It’s not for government. It shouldn’t be for anybody. It’s between them and their god. I’ve always really felt that way, and I’m glad I don’t have to pretend anymore. As a Democrat I don’t have to, and that’s why I’m so happy to be home... where I belong."
According to Watermark, while some liberals also see Crist as an interloper, he leads Scott by four to 14 points, and leads U.S. Senator Bill Nelson by 13 points among Democrats.