10 Questions for Charlie Crist

The Florida governor discusses the Gulf oil spill and his Senate bid. Charlie Crist will now take your questions

  • Share
  • Read Later
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Will BP do what's right to fix the damage it has caused with its oil spill? Elora Matthias, SYDNEY
I hope so. To witness this is frustrating. I spent Memorial Day weekend in the Panhandle of Florida, where some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet exist, and the notion that oil would come up on those beaches is the last thing anybody wants.

What should the role of an elected official be during a disaster like the oil spill? Caitlin Burke, OSTEEN, FLA.
To provide leadership, to be where the situation is, to provide the kind of comfort that [demonstrates] that people are not alone. I'm not a scientist, so how to plug the hole is not my expertise. But making sure people are made whole in the wake of this disaster is incredibly important.

How difficult was it to leave the Republican Party? David Hutchinson, KANSAS CITY, KANS.
I've been a Republican my entire life. When you make a decision like that, it's not something that you do lightly. But it just came to the point where it was obvious that Washington is stuck in gridlock. There's a lot of "party first." The purpose of good government is to fight for people, not the party.

What are the pros and cons of running as an independent? Kevin Waters, HARRISBURG, PA.
Florida is an enormous state. We have 67 counties and almost 20 million people, so the con is that you don't have that natural infrastructure that the Republican or Democratic Party would provide. There's also a financial aspect to it. The parties support their candidate, and they do so in a very healthy way. On the pro side, it's liberating. Tremendously so.

Do you still consider your support for the stimulus to have been the right choice? Ellis Johnson II, DETROIT
Without a doubt. People at the time were fearful of our entire economy falling off the cliff. And we had to do something to give the patient a jolt, if you will. My dad is a family doctor, so a lot of times I look at things through that lens. If America's economy was a patient, it needed drastic help.

Will people still remember the Tea Party in 20 years? Justin Powlison, RALEIGH, N.C.
I think we'll remember it. It's good when we have people participating in democracy, and clearly that's part of what the Tea Party movement is about. It wants less government and more freedom.

Does the space program need to be saved? Jenn Johnson, TITUSVILLE, FLA.
It is in need of saving. While the shuttle program is being phased out, it's important that we go on to the next program. There are about 7,000 jobs directly at stake on the Space Coast. These are some of the best and brightest minds in the world. Florida needs to protect those jobs.

Is our current political polarization temporary or permanent? Chad Dominicis, MIAMI
I don't think we know. It's clearly polarized now. There's all this bickering back and forth. People want our leaders to be better than that, to rise above it. If we're just arguing with each other, how are we making progress?

Why don't you support same-sex marriage? Rick Kerby, ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.
I've always felt that marriage is a traditional [thing] between a man and a woman. If you want to have couples or partners who want to reside together [in civil unions], I don't have a problem with that. It's also important that you have a live-and-let-live attitude as regards adoption. I've always supported civil unions, but I think marriage in the traditional sense is what I believe in.

I am a liberal Republican. Is there room in the party for me? Jeffrey Hersh, COLUMBUS, OHIO
There should be. When you get to a point where a party says, "If you're not pure" — whatever that means — "then you're not good enough to be in the party anymore," that's not a good place to be.