Florida Ex-Governors Speak: Charlie Crist Endorses Obama, Jeb Bush Says GOP Needs to ‘Reach Out’

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Bush (L) and Crist (R) in 2006.

The Republican Convention kicks off tomorrow Tuesday in Tampa so, naturally, today was All Former Florida Governors Speak Up Day. It started with a GOP-blasting op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times penned by Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor who lost his 2010 Senate bid (running as an independent) to new party favorite, Marco Rubio. In the letter, Crist endorsed Obama (who he once hugged), saying that he shares the president's "vision of a future built by a strong and confident middle class in an economy that gives us the opportunity to reap prosperity through hard work and personal responsibility." He added that he felt the Republicans' vision has drifted into dangerous territory: 

An element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims.

Crist isn't the only one concerned about the Republicans. Here's former Florida governor Jeb Bush (widely considered the reining moderate voice of the party, and a possible 2016 presidential candidate) speaking on NBC's Meet the Press earlier today:

This is going to be a close election, but long-term, conservative principles, if they're to be successful and implemented, there has to be a concerted effort to reach out to a much broader audience than we do today. ... Our demographics are changing and we have to change not necessarily our core beliefs, but how we — the tone of our message and the message and the intensity of it, for sure.

Bush has been careful not to align himself too closely with the Republican Party's rightward shift, and he has not stood out as one of Mitt Romney's more vocal surrogates. (He did endorse Romney, who will be officially crowned as the GOP's nominee this week, but only several months after the New York Times reported that Romney had "made phone calls, traded e-mails and met privately to try to win over Mr. Bush.") As for Bush's opinion on the Paul Ryan veep pick, all we know is he was seriously stumping for Marco Rubio just a month ago.

All of this leaves Romney a little short on Florida gubernatorial friends this week, as current Florida governor Rick Scott decided to skip the Tampa festivities to focus on Isaac storm preparedness.