DOWNTOWN MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Charlie Crist has said in the past he didn’t leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left him.
He’s since been embraced by Democrats, including the same man he once called on to resign.
“I think if Bill Clinton would go ahead and resign, and if Bob Graham would ask him to do so, we’d all be better off and we can move forward,” Crist said during his failed run at the U.S. Senate in 1998.
He thought then-President Bill Clinton should step down amid the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.
Fast-forward to 2014 and the gubernatorial candidate is now singing a different tune.
“Do you all ever notice that when you mention President Clinton’s time in office to anyone, they always kind of smile? We all remember his presidency fondly,” Crist said at a rally Friday as he introduced the former Commander on Chief.
Clinton has endorsed Crist for Governor.
Supporters filled the hall at the JW Marriott Marquis to greet the Republican-turned-Democrat and his new ally.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and Crist’s running mate, Annette Taddeo also spoke at the event.
“I want to thank the former governor and the governor-to-be for inviting me here,” Clinton said after walking on stage to U2’s “Beautiful Day”.
Whether Clinton’s star power will give Crist the boost he needs to beat out incumbent Republican Governor Rick Scott is unknown.
According to a University of Florida/The Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll released earlier this week, Scott leads Crist by a margin of 5-percentage points (41-percent to 36-percent) with 17-percent of voters still on the fence.
Scott is trying to sway those undecideds by talking about Crist’s past.
“When he was governor, he lost 832,000 jobs, cut education funding and left me with a mess,” Gov. Rick Scott said.
But Crist has defended his time in office by pointing out his support of teachers and same sex marriage.
“I don’t want you or me or anybody else to wake up on the morning after the election on November 5th and see a headline ‘Rick Scott reelected’,” Crist said after winning Democratic primary last week.
The race could come down to who spends more campaign cash, wish Scott reportedly prepared to dish out $100 million on his reelection bid.
Crist could shell out just half that, maybe more if he sees a surge of donors thanks to his high-profile supporter.
Clinton urged Democrats to show up at the polls in November.
He said Republicans tend to vote in larger numbers during non-presidential election years.
“We can have a lot of successful rallies and fundraisers. But in the end, it’s on you. It’s on you whether he becomes governor,” Clinton said.
It’s not altogether surprising that former President Clinton has decided to chime in on this Florida race. If his wife, Hillary Clinton runs for President in 2016, the Sunshine State is a must-win.
The two candidates will come face-to-face on the campus of Broward College on October 15th.
CBS4 Anchor Eliott Rodriguez will moderate the debate which will air on CBS4.