President Obama endorsed Charlie Crist in his race for Congress in Florida’s 13th District.
“Gov. Charlie Crist has always put people above politics — and we need more of that in Washington,” said Obama on a statement issued on Monday. “As governor, in the face of partisan attacks, he had the courage to save jobs and lead his state into economic recovery. He had the wisdom to recognize that climate change is real and act to fight it. And he had the decency to expand, not restrict, our right to vote. I know he’ll bring the people’s voice to Congress, and I’ve got his back.”
Crist’s literal embrace of Obama when the president traveled to Lee County back in the spring of 2009 became one of the most famous hugs in recent political times, as Republicans used it against the former governor when he unsuccessfully for Senate back in 2010, losing out to Marco Rubio.
“I’m humbled and honored that President Obama, one of the greatest leaders in our nation’s history, has my back,” said Crist. “Outside of the voters of Pinellas County, no endorsement means more to me. He’s done so much for our beautiful Florida — guiding us out of the recession, and working for greater equality, opportunity, and prosperity. He’s a great friend.”
While the endorsement is a nice pickup for Crist, it’s not unexpected now that he is running unopposed in the Democratic primary on Aug. 30.
Another move Florida Republicans criticized Crist for when he was governor was when he extended early voting hours in 2008 when Democrats, especially African-Americans, turned out in unprecedented numbers for President Obama, many of them waiting hours in line to cast a vote.
After he ran as an independent in 2010 and left the Republican Party, Crist was invited to give a speech touting Obama’s record at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in 2012. A few months later at a visit to the White House, he officially announced he had become a Democrat.
Crist is now engaged in what could be an intense battle for the CD 13 seat in Florida, with GOP incumbent David Jolly re-entering the race last Friday. Two private polls made public Monday show the race is extremely competitive.
A Public Policy Polling survey has Crist up by three points, while a survey done by McLaughlin & Associates has Jolly up by 12 percentage points over Crist.