Charlie Crist book signing doubles as St. Pete campaign event
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02/24/14 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:
Tags: Charlie Crist, Jack Latvala, Rick Scott, 2014 election, Nan Rich

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Former Governor Charlie Crist greets voters at Haslam's Book Store as he tries to get his old job back.


photo by Janelle Irwin


Newbie Democrat Charlie Crist is taking advantage of his new book to drum up support for his gubernatorial bid against Republican Rick Scott. During a stop at locally-owned Haslam’s Book store in St. Pete this weekend, Crist defended his transition from Republican to Democrat.

“It’s great to be in the people’s party and I’ve never felt more at home politically than I do right now.”

Crist’s book, The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat, talks about Crist’s many perceived frustrations with his old party. It also includes numerous criticisms of his successor in Tallahassee, Rick Scott. The book tour gives Crist an opportunity to draw voters and media attention without necessarily having to use campaign funds. Critics are accusing Crist of using the signings as cleverly cloaked campaign events.

“Well, I think some people interpret it as both, but for me it’s a book tour. But I happen to be running for governor too, so there is that.”

Critics of Crist have come out in full force to protest his bid for governor at the book signings events. On Friday at a Fort Lauderdale book store, one protester reportedly shouted at Crist as he left that he looked like an AIDS victim and called him a "commie whore." In St. Pete, there were a handful of anti-Crist sign wavers outside, but they mostly kept to themselves. Republican State Senator Jack Latvala, who offered what a press release called a “GOP response”, bought one of Crist’s books, noting that he enjoys fiction.

“You don’t go from being the conservative Republican in the Senate to endorsing the most liberal, Democrat president in our lifetime. If you had any core beliefs at all and, you know, that’s my problem. Are you going to portray the Republican Party? Yeah, I don’t like everything the Republican Party does, but I’ve chosen to stay and try to change it.”

The GOP campaign against Crist has accused him of being an opportunist for going from Republican to independent and then Democrat.

The Rick Scott “Let’s Get to Work” campaign’s first official attack ad that aired in November as Crist officially announced his candidacy quoted high profile Democrats. Since then, the tone has been much the same and Latvala agrees.

“With Charlie, it’s more about being something, it’s not about serving. He wants to be elected.”

Crist’s political flip-flop has been criticized by some Democrats too. Former State Senator Nan Rich who is opposing Crist in the primary has used it in her campaign, but not all Democrats are put off by the party-swapping. Crist was joined at the book signing by Florida Rep. Dwight Dudley.

“I’ve never voted for Charlie before, but I will this time.”

More than 100 people lined up at Haslam’s to get the former Governor’s signature. Some came armed with books they had already purchased; others grabbed a copy from Haslam’s before jumping in line. Crist, who got to the Central Avenue bookstore a half-hour late on Saturday, looked around in awe at the crowd of supporters.

“We’ve had good turnouts where ever we’ve been so I’m overjoyed. I can’t even believe there’s a book at all.”

While new book tour stops haven’t been officially announced, Crist and his wife Carol both said the show wasn’t over.

“No, it’s not the last. No, we’re just going to keep right on going … I don’t know, probably Tampa and Bradenton and Lake County and, I don’t know, where ever we go.”

According to the Florida Division of Elections website, there are 29 candidates running for Governor including Crist, incumbent Rick Scott, Nan Rich and Libertarian Adrian Wyllie.

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