Charlie Crist: I think Republicans got mad at me for hugging Obama because he's black

After writing so many posts criticizing Rubio for immigration reform, I figured I’d do him a solid and remind the buyer’s-remorse crowd that it could have been worse.

Has Crist made this charge before? He’s been asked about the hug ad nauseam for the last four years — it features in his new book too, of course — but a cursory Google search for 2011, 2012, and 2013 reveals no racial conjecture. Could be I missed it, but you’d think if he had said this earlier, it wouldn’t be hard to find on a search engine. Ed tells me that a Nexis search for those years produces no results either. For a guy who’s supposedly spent lots of time pondering the dire state of the GOP, he seems to have reached this conclusion only recently, coincidentally at a moment when he’s running for governor again as a Democrat. Fancy that.

There’s probably an internal poll showing that some Florida Democrats don’t trust his commitment to The Cause and so Crist concluded that a little MSNBC-style demagogic flourish was called for to convince them. He is, as Dave Weigel says, a man with no ideology beyond “elect Charlie Crist.” How do you get lefties excited about a guy like that? Here’s your answer. Although, honestly, it’s probably unnecessary: According to a Quinnipiac poll released two weeks ago, he already leads Rick Scott by eight points thanks to heavy support from Dems. Black Democrats in particular support Crist to the tune of 76/10. I thought that his third-party run in 2010, which cost Democrat Kendrick Meek any chance of upsetting Rubio in the general, would have left some hard feelings, but nope. Give the man credit: He may be a soulless careerist who represents everything that’s wrong with politics, but he knows how to pander. He’s been praising Obama at every opportunity for the past year or two to build Democratic cred. This smear is icing on the cake.

By the way, note that his list of white Democratic presidents who were treated better than O doesn’t include the guy whom the GOP actually impeached. Exit question: If hugging Obama is the kiss of death, why does Tom Coburn remain a beloved figure on the right and a conservative in very good standing? Coburn’s praised O as a “wonderful man” and copped to writing him notes when he first took office to encourage him in the job. That’s a far more meaningful personal endorsement than Crist giving Obama a pat on the back at some event in his home state, but Coburn never had any political problems because of it. The hug killed Crist not because he was nice to O but because it resonated with the charge that he stands for nothing, a charge that quickly proved correct after he was overtaken by Rubio and quit the party. You could never make a charge like that stick with Coburn. Click the image to watch.