Charlie Crist, the lifelong Republican who could be the Democrats' best hope at taking back the Governor's Mansion in 2014, told activists in Tampa Saturday night that his old party has changed to the point that he's far more comfortable as a big-tent Democrat.
"It's about blacks, it's about whites, it's about gays, it's about wherever you come from, you're welcome in this party," said the former Republican governor, recounting how former Democratic Gov. LeRoy Collins stood beside civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. despite political repercussions such as the ones Crist faced after embracing President Barack Obama and his stimulus package.
Crist's eight-minute speech drew an enthusiastic response from the 300 activists gathered for the annual Kennedy-King fundraising gala for the Hillsborough County Democratic Party. It was a healthy, but hardly overwhelming crowd that suggested Crist can't expect a coronation should he jump into the Democratic race for governor.