NBC’s “Meet the Press” David Gregory at a debate last night grilled Florida Gov. Charlie Crist over flip flops from party to party and stance to stance in the name of political expediency.
Gregory served as the moderator in a raucous debate between Republican Marco Rubio, Democrat Kendrick Meek, and former Republican turned independent Crist, all candidates for U.S. Senate from Florida.
David Gregory contrasts Charlie Crist’s stances with the positions he held in 2008.
The series of tough questions centered around Crist’s current portrayal of leaving the Republican Party because he thinks the party has become “extreme” on the issues. Gregory points out that the issues haven’t changed since the 2008 Republican Party platform.
The Associated Press reports on Gregory’s grilling:
“You’ve dodged this question for months,” Gregory said before asking Crist which party he’d caucus with if elected. When Crist repeated that he’d ask both parties questions before deciding, Gregory asked, “Does that mean your vote’s for sale.”
Gregory reminded Crist that he said he’d left the Republican Party earlier this year because of extreme positions within the party on abortion and stem cell research. The moderator then pointed out that those positions aren’t new, even producing GOP policy papers from 2008 that spell them out.
“Governor, reasonably, you think Floridians should say, ‘Wow! Something changed since 2008.’ That all of a sudden the opposition to stem cell research, using federal dollars for that, or overturning Roe v. Wade is somehow an extreme view of the Republican Party when it’s been part of the platform for years?” Gregory asked, referring to the Supreme Court decision that established a woman’s right to have an abortion.
“It’s been part of the platform for years, but the level of discourse has changed dramatically,” Crist said. “I think everybody on the planet understands the Republican Party has gone hard right.”
Crist announced his independent run the day before the deadline to qualify for the ballot. He badly trailed Rubio in the polls at the time. Now Rubio is leading most polls, with Crist and Meek trying to emerge as his main challenger.
Gregory also seemed to be skeptical that Crist policy shifts on issues such as gay adoption — which he now supports after previously having opposed — were because of an evolution in thinking, as Crist explained.
“As we get older, I call it the convergence of life experience and wisdom. When you learn through the time of life more tolerance and become less judgmental, I think that’s a good place to be,” Crist said.
“Four years did that for you?” Gregory asked, with a hint of doubt before bringing up another policy shift. “The criticism is that this is a pattern, that this again is political expediency — this isn’t a heartfelt change of views.”
“This is a heartfelt change of view, and only I can know that,” Crist said. “People will either believe it or they won’t.”
Looks like voters aren’t buying it.
The latest Rasmussen poll has Rubio out front with a commanding double-digit lead, Rubio 43%, Meeks 20% and Crist 32%