MSNBC: Charlie Crist Independent Run Shows GOP Pushing Out Moderates

Tamron Hall and Howard Dean, MSNBC During Thursday's 11AM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall asked former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean about Florida Governor Charlie Crist's expected announcement to run as an independent in that state's senate race: "Is this a sign that people, perhaps centrists or moderates, like Charlie Crist, have no place in this new emerging Republican Party?"

That set up the left-wing Dean to bash conservatives and the GOP: "What effect does the tea party have on the Republican Party? And this is a really good example. They've driven another moderate out of the Republican Party....there just apparently is no place in the Republican Party for moderate, thoughtful people anymore."

Hall first asked Dean about an odd rumor: "There is a story online that's being picked up by conservative blogs that you offered to contribute to Charlie Crist's campaign if he left the Republican Party. What happened there?" Dean explained: "That was a joke between me and Joe Scarborough which some enterprising staffer for Crist picked up and pushed it around. It's not true. I'm supporting Kendrick Meek." He then added: "I actually think that the two big winners out of this are the United States, who are hopefully going to get a real senator instead of a far-right person, and I do think, of course, it helps the Democratic Party and Kendrick's candidacy as well."

After Hall introduced Dean at the beginning of the segment, she remarked: "I say it like you're a correspondent now....I love that being a possible segment Governor Dean, you coming on and talking about the top political news of the day."

Andrea Mitchell and Judd Gregg, MSNBC Later, in the 1PM ET hour show Andrea Mitchell Reports, host Andrea Mitchell opened the program: "Charlie Crist expected to make it official later today, running as an independent in the Florida senate race. Is he leaving the party or did they leave him?"

In a later interview with Republican New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, Mitchell wondered: "What does it say about the Republican Party that someone like Charlie Crist cannot survive in the Republican Party and is going to become an independent?" Gregg shot down Mitchell's characterization: "Well, I don't think that's what it says, really. I think what it says is that Charlie Crist was in a tough primary and decided he probably wasn't going to win, so he decided to choose another course of action." He went on to praise Rubio:

I think the fact we've got somebody like Mr. Rubio running, who has this really amazing story, quite honestly, who's Cuban American, has come up from – basically in the classic American tradition – of coming up from very humble means to be a leader in his state, shows that we've got a pretty broad tent and we have a lot of diversity and a lot of good people running for office.

Here is a full transcript of Hall's exchange with Dean about the race:

11:20AM

TAMRON HALL: Well, Florida Governor Charlie Crist will make it official this afternoon, or is expected to make it official at 5PM Eastern Time that he's going to run for U.S. Senate as an independent. Now this comes – would become a three-way race with Democrat Kendrick Meek, Marco Rubio, and Charlie Crist. And for more on that and some of the other top political news of the day, I say it like you're a correspondent now, of course, we know former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, he also served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. I love that being a possible segment Governor Dean, you coming on and talking about the top political news of the day. But you're making news with Charlie Crist. There is a story online that's being picked up by conservative blogs that you offered to contribute to Charlie Crist's campaign if he left the Republican Party. What happened there?

HOWARD DEAN: That was a joke between me and Joe Scarborough which some enterprising staffer for Crist picked up and pushed it around. It's not true. I'm supporting Kendrick Meek, as you would expect. It's a very interesting race, though, because I actually think that the two big winners out of this are the United States, who are hopefully going to get a real senator instead of a far-right person, and I do think, of course, it helps the Democratic Party and Kendrick's candidacy as well. So this is going to be a hot three-way race, and I think any of the three of them could win it.

HALL: What does this say about – and I do want to talk about the impact this could have on Kendrick Meek – but I want to get your thoughts on what this means for the Republican Party. Is this a sign that people, perhaps centrists or moderates, like Charlie Crist, have no place in this new emerging Republican Party?

DEAN: Well, it's a really interesting question because we're going to be asking ourselves this question a lot over the next several months. And we've already been asking it. What effect does the tea party have on the Republican Party? And this is a really good example. They've driven another moderate out of the Republican Party. Charlie Crist is the kind of republican we badly need in the United States Senate so we can actually get something done there and not have this nonsense of filibustering the finance reform bill and all this kind of thing that's going on. And yet the Republicans actually pushed him out of the race is what they did. You had all manner of people endorsing Rubio, who used to be thought of as mainstream Republicans. And there just apparently is no place in the Republican Party for moderate, thoughtful people anymore. So Charlie Crist runs as an independent. You now have a hot three-way race that could be won by Kendrick Meek, or Charlie Crist, or Rubio.

HALL: Well, Politico is already predicting that this is going to be a very ugly race, that, in their words, 'it's going to get personal.'  

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC