Charlie Crist served as the Republican governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011, became an independent in 2010 en route to a losing bid for senator, and then joined the Democratic Party in 2012. Last fall, he announced he was running for governor — as a Democrat — in the 2014 election.
Through it all, Crist, 57, says his views on abortion have not changed — even when pressed during a recent interview with NBC affiliate WPTV in West Palm Beach, Fl.
"I am pro-life by my definition," Crist told host Michael Williams. "And what I mean by that is I'm for life. I think most of us are for life. And I think that's very important to state because even though I am pro-life, which I mean for life, doesn't mean that I want to tell a woman what to do with her body. And I never have."
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Incumbent Republican Rick Scott is running for his second term in the governor's office, and Crist has already challenged him
to a debate.
During the interview with WPTV, Crist was forced to explain his position on abortion. He has historically gone back and forth on several issues, including gay marriage (he now supports it), the embargo with Cuba (as a Democrat, he's now against it), and abortion.
Crist disputes the latter, however.
"Even as the Republican governor, I vetoed the ultrasound bill on women," said Crist, referring to a law that would have required women seeking abortions to pay for ultrasounds. "So, I'm the kind of guy being raised with three sisters that understands these are very personal decisions that women ought to be able to make on their own, and certainly not have their government injected into the discussion."
Williams continued to press the issue, saying, "On the larger issue, in the prior incarnation politically of Charlie Crist, you supported abortion restrictions. But you have changed the nuance for your view there."
"No, I haven't. That's not true," Crist shot back. "I'm gonna go back to when I was a young state senator. This was 1993 in the spring, and I was on a healthcare committee.
"First vote I have on the healthcare committee in the state Senate representing Tampa Bay was dealing with a 24-hour waiting period for a woman before she could decide to have an abortion. I read the bill and I'm thinking, 'What's this about?' This is a very difficult personal decision for any woman to make, and we're gonna put a delay on it to make her wait? So, I vote no.
"What happens as a result of that? There were three no votes, three yes votes, the bill died in the committee because I as a young Republican in the 1990s voted against it. I have not changed on this issue."
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