Crist claims mantle of Reagan as he leaves GOP

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist thrilled the Democratic National Convention crowd Thursday evening, declaring that like Republican hero Ronald Reagan’s reason for leaving the Democratic Party — Crist did not leave the Republican Party, it left him.

“Half a century ago, Ronald Reagan, the man whose relentless optimism inspired me to enter politics, famously said that he didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the party left him,” Crist said. “I can certainly relate. I didn’t leave the Republican Party; it left me.”

According to the former Republican, who his opponents have labeled a political opportunist, the GOP ticket is not suited to the challenges facing the country.

“No political party has a monopoly on that kind of leadership,” he said. “But as a former lifelong Republican, it pains me to tell you that today’s Republicans—and their standard-bearers, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan—just aren’t up to the task.”

Claiming that Reagan would not have stood with Romney and Ryan, Crist accused the GOP of intractability only focused on the very wealthy.

“They’re beholden to ‘my way or the highway’ bullies, indebted to billionaires who bankroll ads and allergic to the very idea of compromise,” he said. “Ronald Reagan would not have stood for that. Barack Obama does not stand for that. You and I will not stand for that.”

Noting that he does not always agree with Obama, he noted that the president’s handling of the foreclosure crisis in Florida and Gulf oil spill revealed Obama to Crist as the leader “the leader Florida needs … the leader America needs.”

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