Human Charlie Crist Attacked By Robo-Charlie Crist In Clever Bit Of Political Chicanery

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - APRIL 14:  Former Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who is currently the leading Democrat tryi
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - APRIL 14: Former Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who is currently the leading Democrat trying to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott, addresses the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches at the Cohen Pavilion at the Kravis Center on April 14, 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The former governor is showing a slight edge in the polls over Rick Scott as the campaign starts to heat up for the 2014 Florida gubernatorial election that will take place on November 4, 2014. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist -- now running for governor again, because time is a flat circle -- was, for a long time, a Republican. Then, for a brief period of time, during his 2010 Senate run, he was something else. An independent, I guess? Now he is a Democrat, hoping to be nominated to run against the Republican incumbent, Gov. Rick Scott. At some point, with all that switching around, you might wonder, "How does that work, exactly?"

Well, as it happens, Crist wrote a book called "The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat." But if you're like me, you didn't read it, because you only have so much time on this earth. So now, an anti-Crist political action committee is forcing the question in a clever way. According to Adam C. Smith of the Miami Herald, Democrats residing in Florida have been receiving robocalls that sound like this:

“Hi, this is Charlie Crist calling to set the record straight. I’m pro-life. I oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, I support traditional marriage, and I have never supported a new tax or big spending program. It’s sad that in his fourth try for governor my opponent has resorted to distortions and untruths. … Floridians need a consistent, conservative governor that they can trust. I would appreciate your vote on Election Day.”

What is this? Witchcraft? No, apparently it's actually Charlie Crist's voice and Charlie Crist's robocall -- only it's the 2006 vintage of Crist, back when he was a Republican in good standing and his future nemesis Marco Rubio was about to become speaker of Florida's state House of Representatives.

Who is behind these calls? Per Smith:

Anyone hearing the robocalls over the weekend would be hard-pressed to know their source. A woman at the end of the recording says it was paid for by “conservatives,” and includes a phone number that when reached gives callers the option of being removed from a call list. Conservatives is the name of a political committee run by Stafford Jones, a Republican operative and Alachua County party chairman, who has a history of trying to damage Democrats in primary elections.

Naming your PAC simply "Conservatives" is a pretty clever idea, if only for the potential "Who's On First?" scenarios that arise.

The Crist camp isn't taking kindly to the calls, as you might expect, with a campaign spokesman referring to them as a "voter suppression" tactic. Which, strictly speaking, I guess they are -- they seem to be intended to sow skepticism of Crist's beliefs among the voters he needs to court. But the beliefs espoused in the robocalls were -- at one time, anyway -- Crist's own views, and in this instance they're being articulated by the lips and teeth and palate and vocal cords of the man himself.

Chances are, Crist's campaign staffers had to have been prepared for this sort of stuff to come up. They probably weren't prepared, however, for it to happen in this sly fashion, with Crist's disembodied voice from eight years ago coming back to haunt him.

And that's the truly devilish bit of strategy here. Robocalls are terrible. So while there are probably some people who will be turned off by this reminder of the fungibility of Crist's convictions, the number of people who will get angry because they think Charlie Crist just robocalled them at home is much larger. The medium, in this case, is worse than the message.

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United States Governors