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Crist Urges GOP's 'Live And Let Live' Faction To Follow Him To The Democratic Party

Former Governor and brand-new Democrat Charlie Crist explained his qualms and misgivings with the Republican Party last night in an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball" program.

Crist said his disenchantment grew as he assessed the Republican leadership views of immigration, education and voter suppression.

"As a live-and-let-live kind of guy who wants to be tolerant, who wants to be kind, who wants to be compassionate," Crist explained, "the leadership doesn't seem to embrace that kind of view."

Crist, who switched parties last weekend, many believe,  to challenge Republican Rick Scott for the governor's office in 2014,  also urged other Republicans to join his defection movement, especially if they share his "middle of the road, common-sense" views.

"They ought to become Democrats because it’s probably more true to their hearts and their feelings if they're really the more moderate sort of Republicans," Crist said.

The former governor, who left the Republican party to run for the Senate seat won by Marco Rubio in 2010, said there should be a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but that's as close as he came to expressing himself on an issue.

Instead, he spoke of a meeting he had with former Senator and Florida Gov. Bob Graham to explain the attractiveness of Florida's top elected post.

"He said it’s like being quarterback of a football team," Crist told Matthews during the eight-minute interview. "You have the opportunity to call a lot more plays than you do serving in the U-S Senate."

Matthews, whose network generally favors Democratic policies and candidates, welcomed Crist to the "center left" but warned him that there is also a Democratic orthodoxy that he would have to accept -- for instance, against school vouchers and for teacher unions -- to continue successfully in his new party.

Said Crist, "I'm fine with that."

Here's the whole MSNBC interview:


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