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Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist to make DNC Speech

by Michael Higham, published

Former Republican Governor of Florida Charlie Crist will speak at the Democratic National Convention. Crist was the governor of Florida from 2006 to 2010 but is has been an independent since 2010. The Crist DNC speech could be an effort to present political diversity. However Gov. Crist has endorsed Obama's re-election campaign.

The Democratic Party could be crossing party lines or at least giving voice beyond the two-party system. It's important to look past the Independent label, though. Does Gov. Crist appeal to independent voters or does he only pose a mix of two-party stances?

If we look at Crist's stances on abortion, he is prone to the label of "flip-flopper". He does not oppose the Roe v. Wade decision and vetoed a restrictive abortion bill as Governor in 2010. The bill would have required a pre-abortion ultrasound and a ban on taxes to fund operations. Crist was heavily criticized for the veto by Republicans. However, he had a pro-life stance in the past.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, his views changed. Gov. Crist supported Florida's Amendment 2, which banned same-sex marriage in 2008. He then opposed a ban on same-sex couples from adopting children in 2010 by stating, "A better way and approach would be to let judges make that decision on a case-by-case basis".

The changes in his stances came when he attempted a run to represent Florida in the Senate. He dropped out of the Republican primary in the 2010 race for Senate and ran as an independent, losing to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Some are think Crist might become a Democrat since he endorsed Obama this week with a statement of support in the Tampa Bay Times.

Pundits looking to reduce something as big as a statewide election to a single photograph have blamed the result of my 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate on my greeting of President Obama. I didn't stand with our president because of what it could mean politically; I did it because uniting to recover from the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes was more important than party affiliation. I stood with our nation's leader because it was right for my state.

Whether or not Gov. Crist's views changed for political convenience, he crossed party lines during his time as governor. This week's statements could motivate politicians to support policies they believe in instead of relying on party platforms. Florida's non-affiliated voters are crucial to the presidential candidates.

However, Crist's views might still be confusing. Looking at his Twitter activity in the past we see him critical of President Obama. The series of tweets were mostly critical of the Affordable Care Act and came at a time when he was still in the running for the Republican nomination for Senate.

Governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chaffee is also another Republican-turned-independent who endorses President Obama. He will be in attendance at the Democratic National Convention.

The Republican National Convention had its own attempt to appeal to independent-minded voters with a speech slot for Sen. Rand Paul. Although the Kentucky Senator is formally of the Republican party, he still shares the libertarian values of his father Dr. Ron Paul. IVN's Carl Wicklander also discussed the limitations of having someone like Sen. Paul speaking at a party convention in an op-ed analyzing the speech.

Will Crist's endorsement and DNC speech be significant in influencing voters in the important swing state of Florida? The polls are tight, with 12 major polls split between the major candidates. The August 2012 Purple Strategies' PurplePoll had President Obama with a 1% lead, but with a margin of error of +/-4.0 percent. Florida independents supporting Obama-Biden 52%  vs  40% favoring Romney-Ryan. Florida's 29 electoral votes are critical for both Obama and Romney. Independents could be a deciding factor.

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