Jeb Is a Thorn in Any Democrat's Side, Says Nan Rich -- Except Charlie Crist's
Around the State
As a conservative Republican, and a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016, the merits of former Gov. Jeb Bush make an unlikely topic of debate in the Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary. But Bush, the son of one Republican president and the brother of another, was in the spotlight this week as former Gov. Charlie Crist and former state Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich duke it out for their party’s nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November.
Crist praised Bush as he made the national media rounds the last two weeks promoting his new memoir. As he attempted to explain why he left the GOP to run for the U.S. Senate with no party affilation in 2010 and joined the Democrats in December 2012, Crist cited Bush.
It's the litany the former Republican governor-turned failed independent Senate candidate-turned 2014 Democratic candidate for governor uses to explain why he dumped the Republican Party.
The Bush camp showed no signs of buying Crist’s spin.
“Charlie Crist is a habitual opportunist with zero credibility,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell told The Daily Caller last week. “Florida voters understood that in 2010 and will once again confirm it in November.”
Bush slammed Crist back in 2012 when the former Republican endorsed President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, calling him “unique” and insisting “you can’t make up Charlie Crist.”
Talking to the Fox Business Network, Bush went after Crist in very personal terms. “He organized his life around his personal ambition and ran in a primary where he was the odds-on favorite, didn’t offer a compelling reason to be elected to the Senate,” Bush said of Crist. “Marco Rubio cleaned his clock and beat him in the general and now he’s trying to find a way to get back into the political game. It has nothing to do with principles or ideas, it has to do with his ambition.”
Back in November, Bush endorsed Scott’s re-election efforts.
But Crist doubled down on his praise for Bush this week, even though he said he would rather see former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the White House over Bush in 2016.
Crist appeared on Thursday night’s edition of “Politicking with Larry King” on Ora.TV and continued to praise Bush.
“You admired former Gov. Jeb Bush, did you not?” King asked Crist.
“I still do, yes sir, that’s right,” Crist replied.
“If he was running against Hillary, and you were governor of Florida, who would you support?” King asked.
“Well, if I win, I’m going to be a Democrat,” Crist said. “I think that Jeb would make a good president. I think Hillary would make a great president."
“You would support Hillary?” King asked.
“Yes, correct,” Crist replied.
“As a Democrat?” King asked.
“I like great better than good, as a Democrat, as an American, as a Floridian,” Crist said.
Trailing Crist in the polls, Rich ramped up her attacks on the former Republican this week as she tries to appeal to the party base by insisting she is the true Democrat in the race. Reviewing all of Crist’s praise of Bush, on Sunday, Rich asked, “Did Charlie forget that he is now a Democrat?” She followed that up on Friday with an attack on Bush, Crist and Scott on education. “So-called education reforms by Florida's last three Republican governors have failed to deliver a fair accountability system,” she insisted.
Rich called on an old Crist foe to go after the newly minted Democrat -- former Gov. Buddy MacKay, who lost out to Bush in the 1998 gubernatorial election. MacKay, the last Democrat to serve as governor, endorsed Rich earlier this month.
“Did you hear or read what Charlie Crist recently said about Jeb Bush?” MacKay asked Rich supporters in an email sent out this week. “ It’s hard to believe – but, sadly, it’s true. When a radio host asked Charlie Crist if Jeb Bush would be a good president Crist said ‘Yeah, I think he probably would. He made a great governor …’
“I can’t understand how Crist, or any real Democrat, could think that Bush’s policies -- policies that hurt our public schools, the environment, and especially the middle class – made him a ‘great’ governor,” MacKay added. “Frankly, it was frustrating for me to watch Jeb Bush undo so much of the good that Lawton Chiles and I worked to achieve as the last Democratic governors of Florida. I want a real Democrat in Tallahassee because I believe that staying true to Democratic principles is the right path for Florida. That is why I'm standing with Nan Rich.”