Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who won Florida's Democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, declared on Wednesday that he does not want the votes of Floridians who support Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and suggested that DeSantis backers harbor "hate" within their hearts.
"Those who support the governor should stay with him and vote for him," Crist said, adding emphatically, "I don't want your vote. If you have that hate in your heart, keep it there. I want the vote of the people of Florida who care about our state," Crist said on Wednesday.
"The guy is anti-democracy, I'll be pro-democracy. He's anti-women, I'll be pro-women. He's anti-African American, I'm pro-African American," Crist said about DeSantis.
"He is anti-freedom Ron. He doesn't respect your freedom if you're a woman. He doesn't respect your freedom if you're African American," Crist claimed.
Charlie Crist speaks in St. Pete for first time since accepting Democratic nomination for governor youtu.be
"He is on the battlefield of hate, I am on the battlefield of love," Crist declared during an appearance on MSNBC.
During an interview on CNN, Crist said that President Joe Biden has "been exceptional."
Crist previously served as governor of the Sunshine State from early 2007 until early 2011 after being elected to that post as a Republican. In 2010, he lost a U.S. Senate bid while running as an independent. In 2014, he lost a Florida gubernatorial contest while running as a Democrat. He has served a Democratic lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2017.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed Crist earlier this year.
Crist could struggle to defeat DeSantis during the upcoming general election. The governor, who took office in early 2019, has become an enormously popular figure on the political right. DeSantis has previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
A University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab poll conducted earlier this month found that among registered Florida voters who indicated that they will vote in the midterm election, 50% would back DeSantis while 42% would back Crist if the two men were competing in the general election contest.