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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Charlie Crist: Jeb was 'great' governor and would make good president

9

February

Charlie Crist chatted about his new book with SiriusXM P.O.T.U.S.’ Michael Smerconish, the other day and was asked aboutn Jeb Bush for president:

SiriusXM host Michael Smerconish: “Would Jeb [Bush] make a good president?”

Former FL Governor Charlie Crist: “Yeah, I think he probably would. He made a great governor, in my humble opinion. He’s a good man…I don’t agree with him on everything…but when I saw him as Governor [of Florida] when I was Attorney General—and they’re elected separately in Florida—we had a lot of hurricanes, and Jeb Bush did a great job protecting our beautiful Florida during that [time].”

He also talked about his last-minute endorsement of John McCain in the 2008 Florida presidential primary and how it was depicted in the Netflix documentary "Mitt":

SiriusXM host Michael Smerconish: “Governor, have you watched the new movie on Netflix called ‘Mitt?’”

Former FL Governor Charlie Crist: “No.”

Smerconish: “Do you know what I am talking about?”

Crist: “I do…and I know where you’re going with this…”

Smerconish: “Good…because I don’t know if anyone has asked you to respond to this and I’d love to be the first.”

Crist: “You’re the first.”

Smerconish: “…in one of the sequences [in movie]…it’s Florida and it’s ’08, and [Romney is] really upset because he says you didn’t play truthful with him…I think, Governor, he said at a minimum you told him you’d stay out of it, and instead you endorsed McCain. Did you tell him something that turned out not to be true?”

Crist:  “No.”

Smerconish:  “What happened?”

Crist:  “This is what happened: he came to visit me…nice person…”

Smerconish: “Governor Romney?”

Crist: “Correct…[he came to visit me]…in St. Petersburg at a place called the Vinoy [Renaissance] Hotel, which is not far from where Carol and I live, and this is obviously before the Florida primary, which is in January of that cycle.  And he said to me: ‘…I don’t know if you’re going to endorse me, obviously I’d like it…’—and I’m paraphrasing—‘…I’d like it if you would, but if you don’t, at least stay neutral.’ You know…kind of patting me on the head. I’m like, ‘OK…I heard what you said, I really don’t plans to endorse in this race, and that’s kind of where my thinking is now.’ And that was that—that was the end of the meeting.  And apparently—[and] I haven’t seen the film, so I don’t know this for sure,  you have [so you know] better than me, he was upset that I endorsed John McCain…I’m an individual, I have freedom…because I may have said at this point in time [that] I’m not planning on endorsing anybody, he thinks that’s something that I’m supposed to be held to? I don’t think so.”

Smerconish: “You didn’t promise him you’d stay out of it in total?”

Crist: “Hell, no—why would I do that? John McCain is somebody who endorsed me in my primary when I ran for governor in 2006, this is now 2008, the presidential [race]…and I had either decided that I was going to stay out, or consider endorsing John because I had great feelings for him. To me, he’s an American hero, a wonderful guy.  So in the closing days of that primary in Florida, on the Thursday before I remember hearing about polling that had Senator McCain down by eleven, and it was getting worse, and I felt for my friend. And he called me Friday…this is the Friday before the Tuesday primary, and he was campaigning down in Miami with my friend  Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)… and he said you know, ‘I’m going to speak in St. Pete tomorrow night at the Lincoln Day Dinner, you could endorse me.’ And I was already set to introduce him [there].  And I said ‘Thank you. I appreciate that, Senator…it will be a nice introduction.’ And that was kind of it.  So then I went out on the boat with [my wife] Carol that Saturday and I said ‘Honey, I’ve been thinking about it, and this guy is a good man. He’s been very kind to me, he really helped me when I needed help, and I said, ‘I am going to endorse him tonight—it’s the right thing to do, I can’t help it.’ And it upset Mitt.”

Smerconish: “Why not pick up the phone and call Mitt and say ‘Hey, here’s what’s coming?’”

Crist: “Why should I?”

Smerconish: “...given the earlier conversation you had apparently had, where this had been the focus.”

Crist: “I didn’t see a reason to, Michael, to tell you the truth…because I had told him I hadn’t planned to endorse somebody, I don’t have to back to Dad and tell him ‘Guess what? I’ve changed my mind.’ No…maybe it would have been sweet to do something like that, I get it…but I had a lot going on. I was thinking about endorsing John McCain, I was getting ready to do that, and that’s what I wanted to do, and I didn’t want to tell anybody what was going on because I didn’t think it was fair—I wanted to tell John first, not Mitt Romney, ‘I’m not going to endorse you, I’m going to endorse him.’”

[Last modified: Sunday, February 9, 2014 2:51pm]

    

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