Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist told Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert on Tuesday he believes part of the Republican opposition to President Barack Obama is based on his race.
Crist has been touring media outlets the past few days promoting his book, "The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat." But Tuesday's appearance on "The Colbert Report"
was different for its mix of seriousness with Colbert's satirical faux conservatism.
Colbert read a passage from the book in which Crist describes the hug he received from Barack Obama in 2009 that he believes ended his career as a Republican. Crist is seeking to regain the governorship
as a Democrat.
Story continues after the video.
Asked why that quick hug ended his GOP hopes, Crist replied:
"No. 1, he was there to talk about the [American] Recovery [and Reinvestment] Act, the stimulus, as people call it. And a lot of Republicans took issue with that. So I think that was part of it. Sadly, I think another part of it was that he was Democrat – but not just a Democrat, an African-American."
"You're not going to play the race card?" Colbert said.
"I'm not going to play it, no." Crist responded.
"You just did," Colbert said. "Would you like pick it up again and put it in your pocket?"
Crist laughed, then said,"Well, you know, I'm just trying to tell the truth. I've seen a level of vitriol directed at this president that I have never seen directed at President Kennedy or maybe President Johnson, or even President Carter."
Crist said much the same in his book.
"Sometimes, the public's feelings seemed partly racial," he writes. "Sometimes, I'm sure they were not. But Barack Obama was the first African American in the White House. Florida had helped to put him there. And it was impossible to imagine an equal measure of virulence for any politician whose skin was white."
Slate's David Weigel
called that the closest Crist gets to controversy in the memoir.
Weigel himself seemed little convinced, writing, "But this is based on TV reports and angry reactions to his embrace (literal and figurative) of the president. Crist leaves the circumstantial evidence on the page and moves on."
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