Charlie Crist Endorses Obama

FILE - Florida senate candidate Gov. Charlie Crist participates in a gubernatorial debate at the University of South Florida,
FILE - Florida senate candidate Gov. Charlie Crist participates in a gubernatorial debate at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, Fla.,in this Oct. 24, 2010 file photo. The outgoing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist Crist told the St. Petersburg Times Tuesday Nov. 16, 2010 he is looking to pardoning the long-dead rocker Jim Morrison who was convicted of exposing himself at a raucous 1969 concert in Miami. (AP Photo/Joseph Garnett, Jr., File)

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed President Obama for reelection on Sunday, writing in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed that the president is "the right leader for our state and the nation."

"I applaud and share his vision of a future built by a strong and confident middle class in an economy that gives us the opportunity to reap prosperity through hard work and personal responsibility," Crist writes. "It is a vision of the future proven right by our history."

Crist, a former Republican who served as governor from 2007 to 2011, switched his party affiliation to Independent during a failed U.S. Senate bid. Crist lost the 2010 race to Sen. Marco Rubio.

In Sunday's op-ed, Crist went after his former party, citing Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) "legitimate rape" comments as an example of right-wing extremism.

"As Republicans gather in Tampa to nominate Mitt Romney, Americans can expect to hear tales of how President Obama has failed to work with their party or turn the economy around," Crist writes. "But an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims."

The Florida Republican Party immediately slammed Crist for his endorsement, calling the former Republican's support for Obama "a repugnant display from a self-centered, career politician."

"While the people of Florida, and thousands of visitors who've traveled here, are facing an emergency, Charlie Crist has demonstrated, yet again, that his political ambition will always come first," Florida Republican Party chair Lenny Curry said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Crist lost the Republican primary to Rubio.

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