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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Charlie Crist regrets signing anti-gay marriage petition




Flanked by more than a dozen reporters, former Gov. Charlie Crist today turned in his paperwork and officially became a registered Democrat before posing for pictures with several Pinellas County elections workers. "You know what I will call you three? Charlie's angels," he told three of the staffers.

Crist said he has no time line for deciding about running for governor, but he acknowledged people in the Obama administration - though not the president himself - have encouraged him to run. He also spoke of his displeasure with Gov. Rick Scott.

"I am disappointed. It started with rejecting the high speed rail. When I was governor we had several special sessions to try to tee that up to the us dept of transportation, working on Sunrail. We were successful I think in proving that Florida needed it, wanted it and was ready for it. So I think that was disappointing. De-funding education - $1.3-billion the first year. As a public school kid that really bothered me and disappointed me. The way the environments being treated. The disabled. We could go on, but I won't," Crist said, adding that public servant need to be compassionate.

"That's a big reason I'm a Democrat now - because they care, and they're compassionate," whose entourage consisted of Greg Truax, a friend and onetime GOP activist from Tampa, and Michelle Todd, a friend and former staffer.

A couple silent protesters showed up wielding "Go Away-Fake Dems Need Not Apply" signs.

But a couple passersby also shouted their encouragement. "Welcome to the party," said Lawrence Williams. "The signs back there? Don't worry about them."

Asked if he regretted any decisions or positions he made as a Republican over more than two decades, Crist said, "There probably are a few," but everyone grows.

How about his signing the petition in 2006 to enshrine a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution? "Would I do it today? No," Crist said. "I think the best way to judge where my heart is is to look at the deeds that I have done, whether as attorney general, governor -restoration of rights, civil rights cases, things of that nature that I think show a compassionate heart and hopefully someone who cares and knows who the boss is - and the boss is the people of Florida."

[Last modified: Thursday, December 13, 2012 2:07pm]


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