Crist: GOP 'unfriendly toward the African-American president'

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday that he left the Republican Party in part because it “was so unfriendly toward the African-American president.”

Crist is running again for governor in Florida, now as a Democrat. Fusion’s Jorge Ramos pressed Crist in an interview on why he left the Republican Party, saying it was because he was going to lose to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in the 2010 Senate primary.

“No, it was because I couldn’t be consistent with myself and my core beliefs and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president. I’ll just go there,” Crist replied. 

“I saw how the party, some of them, were treating the African-American president, and I couldn’t take it anymore,” he added. “That’s a big part of why I left the party.”

Crist became an independent in 2010 after polls showed him trailing Rubio in the GOP primary. He then lost in a three-way general election for the Senate. In 2012, he became a Democrat.

This is not the first time Crist has brought up President Obama’s race as a factor in the opposition to him. In February, Crist told Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert that race was part of the reason Republicans objected so much to his now-famous hug with Obama in 2009.

"Sadly, I think another part of it was that he was a Democrat,” Crist said then. “But not just a Democrat, an African-American."

Crist is leading Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott in the latest polls. A Quinnipiac survey in April put him up 10 points.