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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

'The biggest flip-flop since he took office'



Img_1238_3 Gov. Charlie Crist's advocacy for lifting a moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration may put him in sync with John McCain, but it's a gusher of a political problem for him.

As a candidate for governor in 2006, Crist proclaimed his unwavering opposition to drilling -- including a Republican congressional proposal to protect 125 miles of coastline that then-Gov. Jeb Bush supported. "Looks like offshore oil drilling," Crist said in November 2005. "I'm a gulf coast guy and I'm against it."

On Tuesday, Crist voiced support for a "study" of drilling and for letting states decide by themselves whether to allow exploration, in the face of $4-a-gallon gas prices being charged to Florida consumers. "My heart bleeds for them,' Crist said. "I hope I have a reputation of wanting to protect this environment, because I do."    

The Florida Democratic Party said Gov. Charlie Crist "turned his back on the people of Florida more blatantly than ever before."  Mark Ferrulo of Progress Florida called it "the biggest flip-flop since he took office. We couldn't be more disappointed. A lot of environmental feathers in his cap just fell off."

"Oh, no!" said Joy Ezell of the League of Conservation Voters. And finally, from Curt Levine, whose Sierra Club backed Crist over Tom Gallagher in the 2006 Republican primary: "It's not appropriate. I think the governor on reflection will change his mind."

A reporter asked Crist if his "wavering" on drilling was related to his desire to be McCain's No. 2. "No," Crist said. (audio from one of two press gaggles here.)

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:23am]


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