Charlie Crist's 2008 backing of John McCain caused fury

Published Jan. 26, 2014

As if Charlie Crist hasn't antagonized enough Republicans by jumping to the Democratic Party, a new documentary film about Mitt Romney captures the furor then-Republican Gov. Crist caused in 2008 with his surprise endorsement of John McCain just days before Florida's critical GOP primary.

Mitt, released Friday on Netflix, shows the moment Romney learned of Crist's endorsement, which actually surprised McCain as he was preparing to address Pinellas County Republicans. Romney looks anguished as he hears the news, and his son Tagg speaks to the camera:

"Charlie Crist had promised my dad multiple times that he was going to stay neutral," he says. "He talked to many people on our campaign and he promised them all he was going to stay neutral. And now he has announced he is going to endorse John McCain. Now it's two days before the election. This is a big deal. It's a tight race, and it's probably enough to tip it in McCain's favor."

Romney in the film notes that Crist did not give him a heads-up: "You do something like this, you call and say, 'Look I made a decision.' By the way, we have all talked to him and we said, 'Are you going to endorse somebody?' And he said no."

Crist also notes this dramatic event — and the backlash — in his book, The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat, which comes out Feb. 4.

He describes how the candidates worked on him, even implying Romney's camp talked about giving Crist confidant George LeMieux a job in return for Crist at least remaining neutral.

Rudy Giuliani was said to be especially steamed about Crist's support for McCain. But Crist says he never promised the endorsement. "Rudy just heard what Rudy wanted to hear. And he wasn't John McCain."

Hannity moving?

You may or may not have heard that Sean Hannity has been making noises about leaving the high taxes of Andrew Cuomo's New York for the low taxes of either Rick Scott's Florida or Rick Perry's Texas. Both Gov. Ricks were on Hannity's radio show the other day urging folks to come on down. Hannity already has a vacation home in Naples.

But here's another intriguing rumor: Hannity has spoken to people about running for Congress from Naples — the seat currently held by Trey Radel and formerly by Hannity chum Connie Mack IV.

Maybe this is part of a new round of contract negotiations or maybe he's serious, but Hannity did say Wednesday that he thinks about running for office.

Joshua Black talks

Political Connections on Bay News 9 features a historic show today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.: The first interview of a political candidate suggesting the president of the United States might deserve to be killed, and the first interview of a candidate that occurred while Secret Service agents were waiting to interview him themselves.

Infuriated by the administration killing U.S. citizens and suspected terrorists with drone attacks overseas, south Pinellas state House candidate Joshua Black tweeted last week: "I'm past impeachment. It's time to arrest and hang him high."

David Jolly divorced

David Jolly's divorce from his wife, Carrie, is final, court records show. The judgment of divorce was granted Jan. 16, according to papers that recently became available from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The court papers say the two entered into an agreement regarding marital property, debt and alimony. A spokeswoman for the Pinellas congressional candidate said he had no additional comment.

Bieber the tourist

Give Gov. Scott credit for staying on message with shameless marketing of Florida at even the strangest opportunities.

Here's how he responded to the Palm Beach Post when asked about Justin Bieber's DUI arrest in Miami: "Here's the nice thing: People want to come to our state. We've had record tourism numbers it looks like again last year. So people want to come to our state; basically they like all parts of our state. But if you come here, you've got to comply with the law."

Ask the candidates

On Feb. 3, the Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and St. Petersburg College are partnering to broadcast a "Conversation with the Candidates" in the Congressional District 13 race as a special edition of Political Connections. The hourlong debate between Republican Jolly, Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby will air on Bay News 9 at 7 p.m.

Here's your chance to suggest questions for us to ask the candidates. Email me at

Sponsored by AARP, the 13th Congressional District forum is hosted by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions on the SPC Seminole campus. There will be a small audience and all tickets have been distributed.

Alex Leary and Tia Mitchell contributed to this week's Buzz.