This has to be some kind of performance art, right? Even when Charlie Crist doesn’t need to flip-flop, he seems to want to make himself look like a liar. Yesterday morning, he told Ed Henry on CNN that he supported a Constitutional amendment to bar gay marriage in the US because “it is a sacred institution.” But hours later, Crist released a statement that insisted he had always been against a Constitutional amendment on marriage, as CNN reports:
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist appeared to backtrack from statements he made regarding same-sex marriage during a CNN interview Sunday, saying in a statement that he does not support a Constitutional ban on the practice.
The comments appear at odds with what the Florida Senate candidate told CNN’s Ed Henry on State of the Union, during which he expressed continued support for a ban on same-sex marriage. …
“I was not discussing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage, which I do not support, but rather reaffirming my position regarding Florida’s constitutional ban that I articulated while running for governor,” he said in the statement.
Oh, really? CNN posts a transcript of the interview, in which it’s clear what Crist answered:
HENRY: Another big issue, same-sex marriage. Many conservatives like Marco Rubio support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. But this week, the former Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman came out and said he’s gay and he called on conservatives to kind of move to the political center and be more tolerant on this issue. You have previously said in your gubernatorial campaign, you supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Now that you’re trying to occupy the political center, are you still in favor of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage?
CRIST: I feel the same way, yes, because I feel that marriage is a sacred institution, if you will. But I do believe in tolerance. I’m a live and let live kind of guy, and while I feel that way about marriage, I think if partners want to have the opportunity to live together, I don’t have a problem with that.
And I think that’s where most of America is. So I think that you know, you have to speak from the heart about these issues. They are very personal. They have a significant impact on an awful lot of people and the less the government is telling people what to do, the better off we’re all going to be. But when it comes to marriage, I think it is a sacred institution. I believe it is between a man and woman, but partners living together, I don’t have a problem with.
HENRY: But governor, doesn’t it sounds like you having it both ways by saying live and let live, but I also support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. If it’s live and let live, why would you ban same-sex marriage?
CRIST: Well, everything is in a matter of degree, Ed, and when it becomes to the institution of marriage, I believe that it is between a man and a woman, it’s just how I feel.
Didn’t the fact that Henry mentioned “constitutional ban on same-sex marriage” twice in the question, and again in the followup clue Crist in to the topic at hand? Does he pay attention when people ask these questions? Of course he does. However, after the interview, it must have occurred to Crist that his answer wouldn’t appeal at all to the Democrats he wants to court in Florida, and hit reverse instead by claiming to have answered a question that Ed Henry never asked.
“Many conservatives” don’t back a Constitutional amendment on marriage at all, and a search of Rubio’s site for “marriage” only turns up references to tax penalties for married couples. What some back are amendments to state constitutions to keep judges from imposing gender-neutral marriage by fiat. But in this election, conservative focus has narrowed to the economy, spending, and the deficit. If Crist had just stuck with that, or even with his first answer, he would have done little damage to himself and perhaps some good.
Instead, Crist gave us yet another opportunity to see the political opportunist. He’s not even bothering to hide it any more.
Update: And yet another. Crist refused to join Marco Rubio and Kendrick Meek for a debate on Meet the Press on Sunday, even though he ripped Rubio for skipping out on a similar debate during the early part of the primary campaign. Crist says he’s already committed to a campaign appearance, but as Jim Geraghty notes, Crist has nothing at all on his published campaign calendar.