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

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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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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