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Charlie Crist will speak at Democratic National Convention

Charlie Crist’s endorsement of President Barack Obama has fueled speculation that he might be close to declaring himself a Democrat.

SCOTT KEELER | Times (2011)

Charlie Crist’s endorsement of President Barack Obama has fueled speculation that he might be close to declaring himself a Democrat.

TAMPA — Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who on Sunday endorsed President Barack Obama, will speak next week at the Democratic National Convention.

Democrats said Crist would focus on the middle class and the economy and make the case that Mitt Romney has catered to "the most extreme elements of the Republican Party."

It's another remarkable turn for Crist, and a sign he's close to declaring himself a Democrat after a long political career as a Republican.

Crist is widely considered to be preparing to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

Democratic planners in Charlotte, N.C., said they had not settled on which day of the convention Crist would speak.

Crist endorsed Obama in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times, denouncing an element of the GOP that "has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people."

Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry said it was a further sign Crist is guided by personal ambition alone.

"It's got to be a historic moment when a self-proclaimed Ronald Reagan and Jeb Bush Republican addresses the Democratic convention," Curry said. Curry noted that Crist had taken a host of Republican positions and had not long ago bashed the health care law.

"Pres. Obama signing HC bill momentarily," Crist tweeted in 2010. "Let's keep up the fight and work to repeal this partisan, gov't takeover of HC."

Democrats are eager to promote Crist at the convention and think he could be key in a close election in Florida.

The endorsement "is a very bold statement that is going to carry a lot of weight throughout the state," said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa. "People like Charlie Crist a lot and respect him."

Crist did not return a message seeking comment. He has said he has no plans to change his party affiliation; he's currently registered "no party affiliation."

News of his endorsement was a topic of cable news shows again on Monday.

On CNN, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Republicans "shouldn't waste time" talking about Crist and that his endorsement of Obama doesn't make sense "when they have nothing in common."

"Charlie has had a sufficiently chaotic career," said former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in an interview in the Tampa Convention Center, where reporters are covering the Republican National Convention. "This is the next logical moment."

Charlie Crist will speak at Democratic National Convention 08/27/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012 7:29pm]
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