Charlie Crist Loves Obamacare But GOP Asks What He Thinks of Bill Clinton
Around the State
With former President Bill Clinton in Miami Beach for a fundraiser for the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) on Tuesday, Republicans offered a reminder that former Gov. Charlie Crist, the favorite for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November, has had harsh words in the past for the former president. But Crist and his team looked to showcase the former governor’s support of President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.
Back when he was running for the U.S. Senate in 1998 as a Republican, Crist called Clinton a liar and demanded his resignation during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Crist left the GOP in 2010 to run for the Senate with no party affiliation before joining the Democrats in 2012. Looking to paint Crist as inconsistent, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) reminded voters of his previous remarks about Clinton.
Continuing that line of attack, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) ran a television ad in Miami-Dade this week, highlighting Crist’s past criticism of Clinton. The ad had been launched as a Web video at the end of last month.
“The only thing that stays the same about Charlie Crist is that he will say or do anything for money and fame,” said Juston Johnson, the executive director of the RPOF, on Monday. “Was Charlie Crist lying then, when he called Bill Clinton a liar and asked him to resign from office, or is he lying now, when he calls him a friend?”
Scott’s running mate, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera also went after Crist on Tuesday with an audio actuallity. “In the '90s, Charlie Crist called for Clinton to resign, but now he’s willing to take money from the same man he once called a liar,” said Lopez-Cantera. “This is just another example that Charlie Crist will do anything for money and fame.”
But Crist looked to win over Democrats this week by stressing his support of Obama’s health-care law, even attempting to use Scott’s campaign slogan against him.
“The Affordable Care Act is great -- and it's working,” Crist insisted to supporters on Sunday. “So, as my friend Dan Gelber asks, what will Rick Scott say to the 1 million Floridians who now have health care under the ACA?”
Gelber, who served in the Florida Senate and led Democrats in the Florida House before losing to Republican Pam Bondi in the 2010 attorney general race, has been one of Crist’s most prominent backers within his new party. Going to bat for Crist, Gelber looked to reassure Democrats that the former Republican could be trusted when it comes to defending Obama’s health-care law.
“The Republican hate machine has been demonizing the Affordable Care Act since it was conceived, even though the notion that people ought to be responsible for themselves is utterly consistent with purportedly bedrock Republican principles,” Gelber insisted on Sunday. “They tried to scare folks with talk of death panels. Or tell seniors they would lose their health care. Or that jobs would be lost as larger companies were asked to provide affordable health care plans.
“None of that happened and as of today, 1 million Floridians have signed up,” Gelber added.
“Yes, 1 million Floridians now have insurance. Thousands of children won’t have to wait until they are so sick they qualify for ER visits; 530,000 women will feel more secure having regular screenings to detect and prevent serious diseases.
“In a state like Florida where nearly one out of four residents lacked health insurance, the ACA has been a boon,” Gelber continued. “And for everyone else who had insurance, it’s pretty good too. One million Floridians will be paying for their own health care costs without shifting that financial burden to homeowners whose tax dollars usually pay for caring for the uninsured.”
Gelber looked to contrast Scott and Crist on health care.
“Florida Gov. Rick Scott is reportedly spending $100 million to tether his opponent, Charlie Crist, to the Affordable Care Act,” Gelber insisted. “After all, it was Scott who rode the tea party wave into office, demonizing the ACA and repeating the tired old lies that on a daily basis are discredited. He’s already spent $20 million, much of it repeating those lies.
“Crist, to his great credit, however, embraces the plan because it provides so many Floridians access to something as vital as health care,” Gelber concluded. “But now that there is zero evidence that Florida is losing jobs due to the ACA and with 1 million Floridians signed up and enjoying its benefits, I wonder what Rick Scott is going to say? What is Rick Scott going to tell 1 million Floridians?”
In the meantime, former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich continues to try to get a debate with Crist as she tries to catch the former Republican in the Democratic primary.
“The Miami Herald says Charlie Crist should quit dodging a debate,” Rich insisted over the weekend. “What’s he afraid of?”
Rich is also pointing to her liberal credentials, attempting to contrast herself with Crist. Rich spoke at a Lee County DEC’s event on Sunday night and cited her record in Tallahassee.
"I'm running for governor on my record and as a progressive Democrat,” Rich told the crowd.
Libertarian Adrian Wyllie also called out his rivals earlier this week. “Rick Scott and Charlie Crist have proven they are both political chameleons,” Wyllie told supporters. “They have put their own ambitions above your rights. They work hard for the big-money special interests, while they ignore you. They have both failed you as governor. Florida needs a governor who puts principle above politics. Florida needs a true statesman. Florida needs Adrian Wyllie.
“Do you want to get government out of your wallet, out of your bedroom, and out of your business?” Wyllie continued. “Would you like to try economic freedom and individual liberty for a change?”
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.