TALLAHASSEE (AP) _ Gov. Charlie Crist is either forgetful, or he's hoping voters are.
In the first radio ads of his Senate campaign, Crist, a Republican, chastises President Barack Obama for trying to spend money to boost the economy.
But Crist was a huge backer of Obama's $787 billion federal stimulus package, so much so that he embraced the president on stage during a Fort Myers rally to promote the plan.
“It's important that we pass the stimulus package,'' Crist said during the event. “Mr. President, we need to do it in a bipartisan way. Helping our country is about helping our country. This is not about partisan politics, this is about rising above that, helping America and re-igniting our economy.''
But Crist's Senate primary opponent, former House Speaker Marco Rubio, has relentlessly criticized him for supporting the stimulus package and Crist now seems to be singing a different tune.
“We can't spend our way into prosperity,'' Crist says in both ads.
In the first, the governor also says, “Washington is out of control, yet the president has the same tired answer for every problem _ to spend more of your money.'' In the second, Crist says, “Enough is enough, that's my message to President Obama.''
The campaign said the ads are running statewide and are “focused on the Governor's core principles of fiscal conservatism.''
Crist also boasts that while spending in Washington has been increasing, he has cut Florida's budget by $7 billion since taking office. What he doesn't say is that Florida's constitution requires a balanced budget, and that state revenues have declined because of the recession, forcing the budget cuts.
When Crist pushed for the stimulus package, one of his arguments was that it was needed to prevent even deeper budget cuts. When it passed, Crist said, “I couldn't be more pleased on how this turned out.''
Crist also says in the ads that he has cut taxes. And while Crist did successful push for cuts in property taxes, he doesn't mention that the last budget he signed included $2 billion in increased taxes and fees, including increased vehicle registration fees and a higher cigarette tax.
Rubio's campaign was quick to point out the discrepancies.
“Despite his best efforts to sell himself as a conservative, Charlie Crist can't fool Floridians who are feeling the pain of the Crist economy and know his record of embracing wasteful stimulus spending (and) raising taxes,'' said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos.
Pictured above is Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.