Crist denies endorsing stimulus package despite support in February
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11/05/09 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

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Yesterday on CNN, Florida Governor Charlie Crist said he did not endorse President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. But he is catching flack for that denial because in February, Crist said he supported it. That same month, while the President was in Ft. Myers rallying support for the bill, he was joined on stage by Governor Crist.

Crist: "Mr. President welcome to Fort Meyers Florida."

Crist did not use the words “endorse” or “support” when speaking about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Ft. Myers. But his appearance with the president on February 10th made it appear as if the Governor endorsed the stimulus bill.

Crist: "And let me finish by saying Mr. President, we need to do it in a bi-partisan way. This issue of helping our country is about helping our country. This is not about partisan politics; this is about rising above that, helping America and re-igniting our economy."

Three days later, in St. Petersburg on February 13th, Governor Crist said he supported the bill.

Crist: "You know there’s a reason I’m supporting this stimulus package, because number one Florida needs it. Number two it creates jobs. It helps our people. It keeps us from having to raise additional revenues, if what we are hearing is accurate and that is great news for our state.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed into law by Obama four days later. So why is the Governor denying his support now? Some point to his aspirations for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Mel Martinez. Crist appointed his former aide, George Lemieux to the seat, but he is not likely to run in the 2010 election. Instead, Crist’s most formidable rival for the Republican nomination is former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, a conservative. Many on the right are criticizing Crist as being too moderate and supporting the Recovery Act. The conservative Club For Growth launched a television and YouTube ad.

To counter his conservative critics, Crist has tried to distance himself from Obama and the Recovery Act that in February he said he supported. Crist released a radio ad in October.

The leading contender for the Democratic primary is member of Congress Kendrick Meek. The general election is next November.

WMNF coverage of Crist in Ft. Myers with Obama

WMNF coverage of Crist in St. Petersburg supporting the stimulus

WMNF coverage of Crist’s radio ads criticizing Obama’s spending

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