Crist: “I’m A True Blue Reagan Conservative”

It’s hard to leave a political party.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist bolted the GOP to run for the Senate as an independent when it looked as if former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a Tea Party favorite, would clean his clock in the Republican primary. Of course, Crist couldn’t say he was doing so to save his political career. Instead, he contended that the system was to blame—and that “the people” needed leaders who would break out of partisan molds.

During the April 29 announcement of his decision to run for the Senate without party affiliation, Crist declared, “I haven’t supported an idea because it’s a Republican idea or it’s a Democratic idea.” In a subsequent campaign video he exclaimed, “The parties don’t work anymore.” And his campaign even dropped the word “conservative” from its website, as the newly-independent Crist started making a play for Democratic voters.

But it wasn’t that long ago that Crist was bragging about his conservative and GOP credentials. On February 9, his campaign issued a press release headlined, “Crist: I’m a True Blue Reagan Conservative.” The campaign was touting an interview Crist had done with Newsmax.com, a conservative site, in which he had proclaimed himself a conservative GOPer, repeatedly citing Ronald Reagan and noting, “I’m an anti-tax, pro-life, pro-gun Republican.”

This is a trap that Crist cannot escape. Any pol who switches party or dumps one to run as an independent will leave behind a trail of inconvenient utterances. Still, next time a reporter questions Crist, he or she ought to ask, “Are you still a True Blue Reagan conservative?” And, if not, what happened to your core beliefs between since February?

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  • David Corn

    David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief and an on-air analyst for MSNBC. He is the co-author (with Michael Isikoff) of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, Showdown, Hubris (with Isikoff), and The Lies of George W. Bush, as well as the e-book, 47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video that Rocked the 2012 Election. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter and Facebook.