It was supposed to be a non-political event, just an innocent book-signing -- at least that’s the way Barnes & Noble hoped it would go -- but that’s like trying to take the drugs out of an outdoor music festival.Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist showed up at the Barnes & Noble on East Colonial Drive around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to sign copies of the book that explains his political crossover, appropriately titled The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat.
The signing comes on the anniversary of a 2009 hug with President Obama that got Crist ostracized out of his former party, whose cheerfully stated wet dream was to make Obama a “one-term president.""For me it's never really been about Right versus Left," Crist remarked to a Channel 9 reporter at the signing. "It's always been about right versus wrong." Sure enough, Florida GOP chairman and Crist’s assigned contrarian, Lenny Curry, was there to make sure everyone knew what a fake he thought Crist was. The chairman was in disbelief that anyone could evolve on so many issues. “I mean think about this: This is a guy who’s trying to make the case that he’s got an open mind and therefore he’s willing to evolve on an issue. Hell, I’m willing to evolve on an issue. But when you change your position on every issue, that’s not evolution. That’s political expediency,” Curry said with a chuckle that suggested we were sharing an inside joke. “I mean, look, Charlie’s on this book tour where he’s making the case that the party’s over -- the reason he left the Republican Party,” Curry said. “It’s pretty clear why he left.” Then there was a lot of name-calling: “Opportunist,” “failed leader” and “lime-light addict” were a few terms that came up. On his Twitter account, Curry took a minute to introduce another sure attack line on the Crist campaign, referencing alleged Ponzi-schemer Scott Rothstein and his connections to the former (future?) governor.
Did Rothstein just walk into book signing? Looks like him. Oh no! He's on the stand singing about pay to play. — Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) February 11, 2014Curry is following Crist around the state to other signings in Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Miami, Palm Beach and Islamorada to dish the same lines, which the state GOP apparatus in all likelihood thought necessary due to Gov. Rick Scott’s crappy poll numbers. Crowds were non-existent at first, but they ballooned after 7 p.m. Crist walked around the bookstore’s coffee shop beforehand, chewing the fat with constituents and opponents alike. In one awkward moment he shook hands with a skulking woman who identified herself as a Tea Partier, and Crist beamed and patted another nearby woman on the back, saying, “We have a Democrat here and a Tea Partier here -- Florida is such a diverse state!” Then one of his aides whispered something (likely having to do with 20 or so over-smiling picketers holding “Charlie’s a Flip-Flopper” posters in front of the store) and Crist said to everyone in earshot, “It’s like Jeb Bush told me: If you don’t have people around holding signs, you’re doing something wrong!” Crist’s fans mostly congregated upstairs where the signing went down. Despite Barnes & Noble’s request to keep things politically sanitary by not interviewing guests, everyone had something to say. “I loved the book; it showed how courageous he was to actually stand up for what he believed in,” Full Sail student Markanthony Brown said. “He talked about how he was a Republican by blood -- it’s who he was -- but to actually see the party that he once believed in change before his very eyes to things he couldn’t stand for, he made the right move.” Brown said he would vote for Crist in the midterm election later this year. “To me, the GOP voice has kind of silenced itself,” he said. I asked him what he thought about Curry, and in an ironic juxtaposition to the chairman’s remarks, Brown said, “He should stick to his guns, just like Crist did.” Here's video of Crist talking about the hug felt 'round the world: [youtube 0P7B1v5iJbc]