Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact Florida | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

Charlie Crist gets it (half) right in DNC speech

In his speech to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist said he didn't leave the GOP, the GOP left him.

He then evoked two Republican icons to drive home his point.

"Half a century ago, Ronald Reagan, the man whose optimism was inspiring to me to enter politics, he famously said at one time that he did not leave the Democratic Party; but the party left him," Crist said. "Listen, I can relate. I didn't leave the Republican Party; it left me. Then again, my friend Jeb Bush recently noted Reagan himself would have been too moderate, too reasonable for today's GOP."

Did Crist characterize Bush's comments accurately?

Bush made his comments on June 11 to national reporters and editors at a roundtable discussion hosted by Bloomberg View in Manhattan.

Bush had already earned a reputation for being a respected member of the GOP who was willing to stray from the party line on immigration and raise taxes to reduce the deficit.

At the breakfast, he called the current political environment "disturbing" and unsuitable for compromise thanks to both parties. He talked about the governing styles of his father, George H.W. Bush, and Reagan.

According to the Bloomberg report, he said, "They got a lot of things done with bipartisan support, but right now it's just difficult to imagine.

"Context changes; history changes. Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, similar to my dad, they would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party — and I don't — as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement," he said. "We're in a political system in general that is in a very different place right now."

The quote was picked up by many news outlets and shorthanded much the same way Crist did in his speech at the DNC.

BuzzFeed: Jeb Bush: No Place For Father, Reagan In Today's GOP

Rachel Maddow's blog: Jeb Bush: Reagan would have struggled with today's GOP

Bush was displeased with the tone of the coverage. He took to his Twitter account the next day and punched out the following four tweets in effort to clarify his remarks:

Am reminded today why I rarely read headlines. #Context­IsImportant

The point I was making yesterday is this: The political system today is hyperpartisan. Both sides are at fault.

My dad & Reagan sacrificed political points for good public policy.

Past 4 years, Democrats have held leadership roles w/opportunities to reach across political aisle. For sake of politics, they haven't.

Then Bush gave an email interview to the Associated Press, stressing that he meant both parties are overly partisan.

Crist's speech misinterpreted — as many news organizations did — what Bush meant, said Jaryn Emhof, a Bush spokeswoman. She held up the AP's next-day story as an example of "one of the few who got it right."

We think it's clear Bush said the partisan divide would make it difficult for Reagan to govern the way he did (i.e., Republicans might have been mad at him for working with Democrats, and Democrats might be unwilling to work with him because he's a Republican.) What's murky is whether Bush said — or suggested — Reagan would be "too moderate" and "too reasonable for today's GOP."

We do know that Bush has since distanced himself from the suggestion that Reagan could not survive in today's Republican Party.

In this case, we think it's fair to dock Crist points for cherry-picking one interpretation of Bush's statement and for failing to factor in Bush's subsequent remarks. On balance, we rate this statement Half True.

PolitiFact Florida is partnering with 10 News for the 2012 election. See video fact-checks at

The statement

"Jeb Bush recently noted, Reagan himself would have been too moderate, too reasonable for today's GOP."

Charlie Crist, Thursday in a Democratic National Convention speech

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Half True
Crist cherry-picks one interpretation of Bush's statement and fails to factor in Bush's subsequent remarks. We rate this Half True.

Charlie Crist gets it (half) right in DNC speech 09/09/12 [Last modified: Sunday, September 9, 2012 11:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays Journal: Duda home run sets Rays record


    BALTIMORE -- With one swing of the bat, Rays DH/1B Lucas Duda broke a team record and tied a personal mark in Saturday's game against the Orioles that was not complete at press time.

    Lucas Duda, right, watches his three-run home run against the Orioles.
  2. Brooksville motorcyclist crashes into pole, dies


    BROOKSVILLE — A motorcyclist crashed into a utility pole and died Saturday evening, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

  3. Woman dead in St. Petersburg shooting


    ST. PETERSBURG — A woman died in a shooting Saturday night, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

  4. For starters: Rays at Orioles, with a different look to things


    The Rays wrap up their four-game series with the Orioles today and their lineup has a different look, with C Wilson Ramos, OF Steven Souza Jr. and 3B Evan Longoria all getting the day off.

    The Rays are starting their All-Star, RHP Chris Archer, who needs wins in his final two outings to even his record, going …

  5. All-eyes photo gallery: Florida State Seminoles loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack


    View a gallery of images from the Florida State Seminoles 27-21 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will face Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    Florida State Seminoles fans sing the fight song during the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.