Back in February, when the administration was pushing Congress to pass its Recovery Act, President Obama gained the support of a prominent Republican ally, Florida Governor Charlie Crist. Standing side-by-side with Obama, Crist explained why he was supporting the stimulus:
CRIST: We’ve had to cut about $7 billion the past two years and we haven’t raised taxes and we’re still in balance. But to be candid, it’s getting harder every day. It’s getting harder every day and we know that it’s important that we pass this stimulus package. It is important that we do so to help education, to help our infrastructure, and to help health care for those who need it the most — the most vulnerable among us.
As The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack notes, Crist explained that he was breaking from his own party to back the stimulus “because Florida needs it frankly.” In May, Crist said he would have made the “pragmatic” decision to vote for the stimulus had he been in the Senate.
But because he is currently engaged in a tight Senate campaign against fervent anti-Obama, anti-stimulus right-wing candidate Marco Rubio, Crist is conveniently forgetting his prior statements. Yesterday on CNN, Crist claimed that he never “endorsed” the stimulus package. “I didn’t endorse it, I didn’t even have a vote on the darn thing,” he said. Watch it:
The irony, of course, is that Crist is distancing himself from the Recovery Act at a time when the bill is beginning to bear fruit. Nearly $7 billion has flowed from the stimulus into the state of Florida, helping to create or save approximately 29,000 jobs. (State officials put the number closer to 47,000.)
The Crist administration has set up a website to specifically tout the benefits of the stimulus program. “I’m grateful for the federal dollars coming to our state for economic recovery,” Crist states in a video posted on that website. Some examples of its impact:
– More than 3,000 teaching jobs were saved and more than 500 coaching and support jobs created in Broward and Palm Beach County schools.
— Construction worker Leon Barron of Ft. Piece, FL, said he was “facing the prospect” of being laid off prior to the stimulus. “We appreciate the stimulus and the president,” said Barron, who works for Range Construction Industries.
— Ranger Construction Industries Vice President Bob Schafer said a stimulus contract allowed him to save the jobs of 25 to 30 people he otherwise would have laid off.
— Pasco County officials say they seriously underestimated the demand for federal stimulus money intended to prevent homelessness, and they are being overwhelmed with calls for help.
Sadly, Crist has taken to deceiving the public, rather than defending a proud record of saving and creating jobs in Florida.
The Club for Growth is releasing an ad in Florida, attacking Crist for his hypocrisy. “Crist embraced the stimulus, and Florida’s economy has suffered for it,” said Club President Chris Chocola.