Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist on Tuesday described himself as “a trustworthy person” despite a number of his former staffers and colleagues announcing they would be supporting his opponent, incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, for re-election.
In an interview with Fox News Digital just one day following his fiery debate with DeSantis, the former Republican governor pushed back on the notion that he was untrustworthy for changing his political party affiliation multiple times, arguing that the GOP had left him rather than the other way around.
Crist was a Republican until 2010 before unsuccessfully running for Senate that year as an independent, and then ultimately winning election to Congress in 2016 as a Democrat. He resigned his congressional seat in August after winning the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
“I am a trustworthy person. I follow my heart,” Crist told Fox when asked if his shifting alliances were evidence of political opportunism.
“I did change political parties, because my party left me. I didn’t leave it. It started with the rise of the Tea Party, and then it metastasized under Trump, and here’s where we are today, where you got people who are denying elections getting nominated by the Republican Party for offices all over America. It’s a mess,” he added.
In a letter released Tuesday, a number of Crist’s former staffers and colleagues, including his ex-chief of staff George LeMieux and his former lieutenant governor, Jeff Kottkamp, wrote that DeSantis was the “clear” choice for governor.
“The undersigned represent former colleagues and staff of Charlie Crist. Together, we have known Charlie in virtually all phases of his career and public life,” the letter read.
“The choice this November could not be more clear: we unanimously endorse Governor Ron DeSantis for re-election,” it read.
“Governor DeSantis has delivered for Florida. He has led our state with courage and conviction. He has demonstrated his ability to lead us through difficult times. We stand with Governor DeSantis because the stakes are too high,” it added.
Crist went on to bash the Republican Party, rejecting the idea that so-called “MAGA Republicans” like DeSantis and former President Donald Trump were popular in Florida.
“I don’t think they’re so popular in the state of Florida. This election will tell us the true answer to that question two weeks from today,” he said.
Crist gave a resounding “Yes” when asked whether he would support President Biden should he decide to run for re-election in 2024, and declared that he would welcome the president, whose approval rating remains underwater in the Sunshine State, with “open arms” when he joins him on the campaign trail in the final week before election day.
A new poll released Wednesday showed DeSantis with a commanding lead over Crist, 55% to 41%. Approximately 4% of those surveyed did not have a preference or refused to answer, while less than 1% of those polled planned to vote for a third party.
Fox News’ Power Rankings has rated the Florida gubernatorial race as “likely Republican.”
The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Fox News’ Timothy H.J. Nerozzi contributed to this report.