Crist takes aim at GOP; no word on governor’s race

Newly minted Democrat Charlie Crist made an appearance Monday night on CNN and repeated his refrain that, “I didn’t leave the Republican Party — the Republican Party left me.”

Crist, appearing on the “Piers Morgan Tonight” show, said the GOP had become strident on issues such as immigration, education and what he described as voter suppression. He said the shift in the party went against his values and his belief in tolerance.

“Republican officials across the country made it hard for people to vote,” said the former Republican governor, who drew headlines when he signed registration papers Friday night at the White House to become a Democrat.

He blamed GOP leaders for the state of the party and said his parents continue to be Republicans. When Morgan asked about what Crist’s parents think of the party switch, Crist said, “They’re happy about it.”

Morgan, however, did not ask the question that has been buzzing through Florida politics since Friday: Will Crist run again for governor in 2014 as a Democrat?

The state GOP and party operatives have spent the past few days criticizing Crist as a political opportunist. Among other things, they have released old statements by Crist in which he espoused his conservatism.

Crist, who became an independent during an ill-fated U.S. Senate race in 2010, praised President Obama during the CNN interview as a “wonderful leader.” He also had praise for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, when asked about the possibility of her running for president in 2016.

“I think that Hillary Clinton would be an extraordinary candidate, and she would do very, very well,” he said.

The News Service of Florida