- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist set himself up Tuesday for another round of attacks over the president’s health overhaul from Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign team - repeatedly calling the nation’s new insurance system “great” during a lunch speech.

Crist appeared at the Capital Tiger Bay Club and almost immediately brought up the attack ads being run by the political committee backing Scott’s re-election, which show video of Crist talking about the health care overhaul and saying, “I think it’s been great.”

“I’m going to tell you what’s great. ‘Obamacare’s‘ great,” Crist said one minute into his 29-minute speech. “My opponent has spent about $6 million showing me say what’s great … Affordable health care - I think it’s incredibly important and I don’t back away from it, I do support it because it is great.”

Republicans nationally are trying to use the health care overhaul as a campaign strategy against Democrats, and it’s clear it will be a major issue in the governor’s race. In addition to the television ads, the Republican Party of Florida and Scott’s campaign have also criticized Crist’s position on the Affordable Care Act in at least 50 separate emails to reporters since the beginning of the year.

Crist told the group that since the television ads began running, a woman in Orlando approached him while he was campaigning and said she agreed the health care overhaul is great.

She said the woman’s brothers both had juvenile diabetes and couldn’t get health insurance coverage because of their preexisting condition.

“‘Now they’re dead,’” Crist said the woman told him. “‘And if Obamacare would have gone into effect a little sooner, I could be sitting here having a beer with them, too. Now, Charlie, you know how great Obamacare really is.’ So yeah, I support it.’”

The Scott campaign responded with new criticism for Crist on the issue.

Charlie Crist is completely disconnected from the pain that Florida families are feeling because of Obamacare. This failed law’s higher taxes, higher premiums and broken promises are impossible for him to defend,” campaign spokesman Matt Moon said in an email.


Follow Brendan Farrington on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bsfarrington

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