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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bob Graham fine with former rival Charlie Crist as Dem candidate for governor



The governor and legislative leaders may be uncertain about whether Florida should embrace the Affordable Care Act and its expanded insurance coverage, but Bob Graham says it's a no-brainer.

The cost of participating in the health care exchange and Medicaid expansion would pale in comparison to the expenses Florida would face if it does not, the former two-term governor and three-term senator said in an interview airing today on Political Connections on Bay News 9.

"The Affordable Care Act is going to mean as much to Florida as any place in the country," said Graham, noting that the state has among the highest percentage of people uninsured, has long offered limited Medicaid benefits, and has a huge number of nursing home patients who have moved from other states.

"If we try to support the retiree community of America off our dime, Florida would be a completely different state fiscally and many other ways," Graham said.

As a Democrat, Graham has a unique perspective on the prospect of former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist running for governor again as a Democrat in 2014: Crist was the Republican U.S. Senate nominee trying to unseat Graham in 1998.

"Charlie and I, even when we were running against each other in '98, have had a close and cordial personal relationship," said Graham, who has no problem with the concept of Crist seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

"I don't think it's a bad idea," Graham said. "We spent a couple of decades with Democrats registering as Republicans. It would be kind of nice to have a period where Republicans were coming home to the Democratic Party."

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. every Sunday

[Last modified: Sunday, December 2, 2012 9:21am]


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