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Abortion Rights? Crist Says "I Get It" And Snags Planned Parenthood Endorsement

Rick Stone

On Saturday morning at 9:30 -- as most of the city was waking up -- Charlie Crist was collecting the endorsement of Planned Parenthood's political action committee. To an audience consisting mostly of her own staff and volunteers, PAC chairwoman Lillian Tamayo delivered the priority message.

"Gov. Rick Scott has waged an unrelenting assault on women since his election in 2010," Tamayo told the group, most of them in pink Planned Parenthood PAC T-shirts.

During his last run for governor in 2006, Crist was a Republican who campaigned against abortion, which is a litmus issue for Planned Parenthood and many women voters. Crist, now a Democrat, now supports abortion rights and access to contraception. He says reproductive rights are an issue of personal autonomy for women, a position his lifelong exposure to "strong women" in his family taught him to respect.

"I get it, particularly as it relates  to women and I always have," Crist declared.

Crist has a mixed record on abortion and his central convictions are hard to pin down. In his remarks on Saturday, he recalled casting the decisive committee vote against an abortion waiting period bill during his time as a Republican state senator in 1995. And he reminded the audience that he vetoed an invasive ultrasound bill as a Republican governor.

Crist was asked if he needed to go an extra mile to regain the trust of women voters.

"No I don't think we have many more miles to walk," he said. "We only have 59 more days to walk and I'm looking  forward to it."

That's 59 days from Saturday until the November election. Crist has recently lost considerable polling strength. Once a high flyer, he now trails Gov. Scott, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released this weekend, though women voters still prefer him.

And, for the first time, it is Rick Scott who has the higher favorable score.