Page 3 of 3
At the 2008 Republican Governors Association meeting, which Crist hosted in Miami, he said, "This party can no longer hope to reach Hispanics, African Americans and other minority groups – we need to just do it. Embracing cultures and lifestyles will make us a better party and better leaders. This desire for inclusiveness is near and dear to my heart…."
While Crist has historically been strong on gun rights and has been primarily anti-abortion, his overall record is more liberal. As governor, Crist pushed for stricter air pollution standards and opposed offshore drilling, a position he altered as gas prices rose in 2008. He also reformed state health insurance rules, helping to expand benefits for disabled people and low-income residents.
"I've had friends for years tell me, 'You know Charlie, you're a Democrat and you know it,'" Crist told the Tampa Bay Times.
Yet Crist's convictions will be easy for Republicans to highlight, as they already have, blaming his policies in large part for Florida's economic downturn.
"Charlie Crist's first official act as a Democrat was to tell a lie about why he is now pretending to be one," the Republican Party of Florida wrote in a statement on Saturday. "The truth is that this self-professed, Ronald-Reagan Republican only abandoned his pro-life, pro-gun, conservative principles in 2010 after he realized that Republicans didn't want to send him to Washington D.C. as a senator, especially after he proved he couldn't do the job as governor."