Monday, January 11, 2010

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Gov. Charlie Crist, who wanted to change hearts and not abortion laws when he ran for governor, now wants to fight for pro-life legislation if he’s elected to the Senate, according to statement by his campaign Friday.

As a candidate for governor in 2006, Mr. Crist said, “I would rather encourage adoption. I would prefer not to change law, I would rather change hearts.”

His Senate campaign said the “pro-life” legislation Mr. Crist would support included tax credits and subsidies for parents who adopt, but his camp refused to say whether he would seek changes to abortion laws.

Mr. Crist is a populist governor and moderate Republican who is describing himself as a solid conservative now that he’s lost significant ground to former House Speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican primary.

“Charlie Crist’s conservative makeover attempt isn’t fooling anyone, especially not pro-life Republicans who are well aware of his pro-choice record, support for maintaining Roe v. Wade and opposition to mandatory waiting periods for abortions,” said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos.

Democratic front-runner Rep. Kendrick Meek challenged Mr. Crist’s work ethic as a governor. Mr. Meek said his own voting attendance record is one of the best in Congress while Mr. Crist’s schedule is often light on substance.

“We know about the governor’s past as it relates to his schedule and his one-meeting days,” Mr. Meek said. “The governor’s history of being more available and appearing at photo-ops aren’t going to play well in this state, especially when people are looking at the fact that they don’t have a job, that they’re losing their homes.”

Even while campaigning during a busy year in Congress, Mr. Meek said his voting attendance is 98 percent and that if elected to the Senate, he will go to work “every day.”

Mr. Crist made the same promise during the governor’s race four years ago, but reviews by several news organizations, including the Associated Press, cast doubt on whether he’s lived up to that commitment. Since entering the race in May, Mr. Crist’s schedule has been even lighter as he’s focused on raising money for his Senate campaign.

The Crist campaign, rather than defend the governor’s record, responded to Mr. Meek’s comments with attacks on Democratic leaders.

“Instead of attacking Governor Crist, Kendrick Meek should be in Washington talking to his friends Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid about opening the ongoing health care talks for everyone to see. President Obama has broken his promise to the American people on transparency in health care,” said Crist spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

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