Voters are not naive, though. They understand that politicians are, well, politicians, who say things for expediency or self-preservation. For much of his career, Crist called himself pro-choice and voted against abortion restrictions. He shifted his tune as his party moved to the right.
“Whether we like to admit it or not, if you’re a member of a political party you give a certain amount of deference to the views of that party. What’s that old saying — you have to dance with the one that brung you,” said Democrat Steve Geller, a Crist supporter from Broward County, who has known the ex-governor since their Florida State University days in the late 1970s and served as Florida Senate Democratic leader when Crist was the Republican governor.
“Crist is a raging moderate. When you’re a moderate, that leaves you open to attack from both sides. The conservatives say, ’Oh, he doesn’t believe in anything,’ and the liberals say, ’Oh, he doesn’t believe in anything.’ Moderates do have core beliefs but they don’t have such stark beliefs. Charlie believes it’s his job to carry out the will of the voters,” said Geller, who expects a Democratic Gov. Crist would govern slightly to the left of center just as he governed slightly to the right of center as a Republican.
“The Republicans moved so far to the right that they don’t permit moderates any more,” he said. “It’s my fervent belief and hope that the Democrats accept moderates.”
Former U.S. Rep. Wexler, a beloved figure in one of America’s most Democratic congressional districts whose autobiography is titled Fire Breathing Liberal, is convinced any Republican or Democratic campaign trying to cast Crist as a phony, principle-free flip-flopper is doomed.
“It’s not going to work because Floridians have seen the evolution of Charlie Crist, they know him, and he has made no secret of it,” Wexler said. “There will be people that say it’s just an act or a campaign theme — listening to ordinary Floridians — but the truth is Charlie’s been doing this for over 20 years, and that’s why people like him.”