Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, who has lost three statewide elections running in different parties, was grilled on his long record of political flip-flops by fellow Floridian and former GOP strategist Ana Navarro during an appearance on “The View.”
Navarro, a longtime critic of Crist, called him a “political mercenary” and asked him to explain why skeptical voters should believe any of his positions are sincerely held.
“You’ve been in sixteen elections in the last three decades. In that time you’ve gone from a staunch Republican, to an independent, to a Democrat,” Navarro said Friday. “Your own words, Charlie, have come back to haunt you, have been used against you.”
“The View” cut to a clip of a robocall Crist recorded during his 2006 campaign for governor of Florida as a Republican. In the message, Crist says he is “pro-life,” opposes “amnesty” for illegal immigrants, supports traditional marriage and opposes gay adoption, and opposes raising taxes and big spending.
“Floridians need a consistent, conservative governor that they can trust,” Crist says in the robocall.
More than a decade later, as a Democrat, Crist has changed his position on all of those issues. Navarro demanded an explanation from him.
“Those are your words. What would you say to skeptics like me who think you’ve changed parties because you’re a political mercenary and it was out of convenience?” Navarro asked. “How should we trust you?”
“I changed parties because my party changed,” Crist replied. “It started with the rise of the Tea Party back in ’09 and 2010, and it really has metastasized since then. And, you know, I just couldn’t stomach it any more.”
He gave an obligatory disclaimer that there’s “a lot of good Republicans” in Florida and the rest of the country before saying “the party has changed dramatically from what it was when I was a Republican.”
Then he accused the GOP and his opponent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) of being “anti-minority” and making it harder for people to vote.
But Navarro pointed out that Republicans still still support many of the policies Crist claimed to support in his 2006 robocall.
“You were embracing a lot of the policy issues back then that Republicans still embrace now, so what has changed?” Navarro pressed.
Crist repeated his assertion that the GOP has changed “dramatically.”
Sunny Hostin then asked if Crist had changed his views on gay marriage. “Yeah, about the same time President Obama did,” Crist responded. He also said he is “pro-choice” on abortion and pointed to votes he cast as a Florida state lawmaker preventing pro-life legislation from passing.
Crist explained that he cast a tying vote on the state Senate health committee to kill a 24-hour waiting period bill. He also said that as a Republican governor he vetoed “an anti-abortion bill” that would have required a woman to view an ultrasound before seeking an abortion.
“In my six years almost now in Congress, I’ve got a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood,” Crist said, touting his endorsement from the abortion provider in the race against DeSantis.
Previously, Navarro has made clear she is no friend of Crist’s. In tweets from 2014 and 2015, she called the former Florida governor a “shallow, feckless, rudderless, spineless, disloyal, career politician.”