In 2008, Charlie Crist "applauded the pick of Sarah Palin and said she would do 'a great job.' "
Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, Aug. 29, in an op-ed
On the eve of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Charlie Crist — Florida's former Republican governor turned independent — penned an editorial in the Tampa Bay Times endorsing President Barack Obama. And voila! He landed a gig speaking at the Democratic National Convention.
Crist's decision to back Obama wasn't totally shocking. Crist literally embraced Obama over the stimulus package in 2009, and a year later he was headed toward defeat in a GOP U.S. Senate primary against Marco Rubio. Crist fled the GOP for "no party affiliation" and still lost the 2010 Senate race. Now Floridians are wondering if Crist will officially turn blue and try to win back his old seat from Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.
The latest step in Crist's re-invention prompted Florida Republican leaders to rev up their Crist-bashing engines.
One of those attacks is coming from George LeMieux, Crist's former campaign strategist and chief of staff. "This isn't the Charlie Crist I knew," LeMieux wrote in a guest column that ran in the Times.
"The Charlie Crist I knew eagerly endorsed and campaigned for Sen. John McCain against Barack Obama," LeMieux wrote. "He put himself forward as a potential vice presidential running mate for McCain. When he was not successful, Crist applauded the pick of Sarah Palin and said she would do 'a great job.' "
Here, we will fact-check whether Crist said Palin would do "a great job" when McCain chose her as his running mate, and if his support for the ticket was as full-throated as LeMieux claimed.
Crist was an early backer of McCain's presidential bid and was often mentioned as a potential running mate. But when McCain chose Palin, Crist got on board.
"Sen. John McCain has made a great pick in Gov. Sarah Palin. She has demonstrated tremendous leadership as the chief executive of her state," he wrote in a statement.
Crist then went on national TV to praise McCain's choice. "I was impressed at Gov. Palin being picked," Crist said. "I think that, once again, Sen. McCain has shown his independent streak, his maverick status, his go-with-the-gut call. And I think he made a great choice in Sen. (sic) Palin. I think that she'll be a great candidate. I watched her speech today. I was very impressed with not only what she had to say, but the way in which she delivered. I thought she was very effective, very articulate. And she's very bright. I've had the occasion to meet her at some governor association meetings and she's a very impressive lady."
Crist later campaigned alongside Palin in Clearwater and Jacksonville in October 2008. "She is a great governor, she's one of us. She'll be a great vice president of the United States of America,'' Crist told the crowd in Clearwater.
It's worth noting that Crist shifted his opinion of Palin during his bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010. In one campaign ad, Crist accused Rubio, Palin and the tea party of following a road to "extremism."
But that doesn't affect LeMieux's claim. We rate it True.
Amy Sherman, PolitiFact Florida. This item has been edited for print.