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Charlie Crist: Republicans 'Aren't Up to the Task'

Florida's former GOP governor speaks at the Democratic National Convention. Here is his statement Thursday, in support of President Barack Obama.

On Thursday, St. Petersburg native and former Florida GOP Governor Charlie Crist spoke at the Democratic National Convention. Below are his remarks.

Thank you! What an incredible night. Optimism is in the air. And what an honor to be here with you, to stand with our president, Barack Obama. Half a century ago, Ronald Reagan, the man whose relentless optimism inspired me to enter politics, famously said that he didn't leave the Democratic Party; the party left him. I can certainly relate. I didn't leave the Republican Party; it left me. Then again, as my friend Jeb Bush recently noted, Reagan himself would have been too moderate and too reasonable for today's GOP.

We face serious challenges in this country. We must create good middle-class jobs so we can have an economy built to last. We must rebuild our roads and bridges, and improve our public schools. And particularly important to me and my state is the challenge of saving Medicare and Social Security so we can keep our promise to seniors. But there are common sense solutions within our reach if we have leaders who are willing and enthusiastic to find common ground. No political party has a monopoly on that kind of leadership. But as a former lifelong Republican, it pains me to tell you that today's Republicans—and their standard-bearers, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan—just aren't up to the task. They're beholden to "my way or the highway" bullies, indebted to billionaires who bankroll ads and allergic to the very idea of compromise. Ronald Reagan would not have stood for that. Barack Obama does not stand for that. You and I won't stand for that.

I'll be honest with you, I don't agree with President Obama about everything. But I've gotten to know him, I've worked with him, and the choice is crystal clear. When he took office, the economic crisis had already put my state of Florida on the edge of disaster. The foreclosure crisis was consuming homeowners, the tourists we depend on couldn't afford to visit and our vital construction industry had come to a standstill. President Obama saw what I saw: a catastrophe in the making. And he took action.

One of his first trips in office brought him to Fort Myers, where I was proud to embrace him and his plan to keep our teachers, police and firefighters on the job. Well, that hug caused me more grief from my former party than you can ever imagine. But even as the Republican Party fought tooth and nail to stop him, this president showed his courage, invested in America—and saved Florida. Two years later, Florida and the Gulf Coast faced the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history, this time when a ruptured well spilled nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama came to our rescue again, leading a massive cleanup effort and demanding accountability from those responsible. He didn't see a red state or a blue state. He simply saw Americans who needed help. And I once again saw the leader our country needs.

You know, I used to play quarterback just down the road from here at Wake Forest. My dad always told me, "Charlie, it takes a cool head to win a hot game." Our country is in the middle of a hot game. We face serious challenges, both at home and abroad. Meanwhile, our politics are defined by discord and discontent. Never has it been harder for a president to keep a cool head. And never has it been more important. I look around Florida, and I see a state bursting with diversity and opportunity, a state that looks like America's future. When I look at the Republican ticket today, I see two candidates who would break the fundamental promise of Medicare and Social Security, and cut investments in our middle class which are so important to our economic recovery. And when I look at President Obama, I see a leader with a cool head, a caring heart and an open mind, a president who has demonstrated through his demeanor and through his deeds that he is uniquely qualified to heal our divisions, rebuild our nation and lead us to a brighter future together.

That's the leader Florida needs. That's the leader America needs. And that's the reason I'm here tonight, not as a Republican, not as a Democrat, but as an optimistic American who understands that we must come together behind the one man who can lead the way forward in these challenging times: my president, our president, Barack Obama. And if you see the president before I do, give him a hug for Charlie.

Hall Palmer September 07, 2012 at 12:59 PM
This guy is as credible as Judas Iscariot. His only remaining political future is to complete his turncoat move and sign on with the only constituancy he has not already betrayed. A million dollar campaigner worth ten cents upon election.
Jack Sprat September 07, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Charlie is so lame. He certainly has all the spend, spend, spend talking points memorized. Next we'll be hearing about all the benefits of high speed railroads to nowhere.
sally nelson September 07, 2012 at 06:51 PM
This guy has absolutely no credibility. You have to desperate to let him join much more or less speak. As leezy as the whole bunch of them. Tell anyone anything to get elected.
Mark Gibson September 07, 2012 at 06:59 PM
How could ANYONE that pays even a little bit of attention to politics consider Charlie Crist anything more than an empty suit. He has proven over and over again that he will literally take ANY position to further his political career. Which, of course, is why he has no longer has a political career. I sincerely feel sorry for Charlie. It has to be hard going through this life with no moral compass, no guiding principles, and no deep convictions beyond a yearning for political power. Sad.
Suzanne Weiss September 08, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Charlie Crist showed a lot of courage when he went against the Repubicans extreme right wing hate mongers that wanted to destroy him over an expression of gratitude to the President. I don't see Crist as an opportunist. If he was an opportunist he would have went along with the right wing agenda. Crist stood up for what he thought was right. He was a moderate Republican when he was voted into office. He didn't change his views. The party changed. He paid for it, and I'm sure he knew what he would be getting into when he didn't follow what the right wing Rush lovers wanted. So, the facts and political logic don't support the rhetoric against Crist.

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