"Half a century ago, Ronald Reagan, the man whose optimism was inspiring to me to enter politics, he famously said at one time, that he didn't leave the Democratic Party, but the party left him.Well, listen, I can relate. I didn't leave the Republican Party; it left me," Crist said. "Then again, as my friend Jeb Bush recently noted, Reagan himself would have been too moderate, too reasonable for today's GOP."
Crist switched from the GOP to independent because Marco Rubio was ahead in polls leading up to the 2010 Senate primary. Rubio then beat Crist and a Democrat in the general election.
During the convention speech, Crist went on to say saving Medicare and Social Security was of particular importance to him and Florida. He added that no party has a monopoly on leadership willing and enthusiastic to find common ground.
"But as a former lifelong Republican, it pains me to tell you that today's Republicans _ and their standard-bearers, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan _ just aren't up to the task," he said.
Crist added that he doesn't agree with President Obama on everything but that he has gotten to know him and he has worked with him.
"That's the leader Florida needs. That's the leader America needs. And that's the reason I'm here tonight, not as a Republican, not as a Democrat, simply as an American who understands that we must come together behind the one man who can lead the way forward in these challenging times: my president, your president, Barack Obama," he said.
Sharon Day, the co-chair of the Republican National Convention released a statement on Crist.
"Charlie Crist is the consummate political opportunist and an embarrassment to my home state of Florida,” Day said in an email statement. “First he was a Republican, then an independent, then a Democrat— whatever helped his career. He didn’t change parties on principle; he changed for politics."