Crist says he’s ‘lonely’ on campaign trail

By J. Taylor Rushing – The Hill

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says it is “very lonely” running as an independent.

Since he quit his party, Crist says he has discovered that people he thought were friends turned out to be only Republican friends, who dropped Crist after he left the GOP.

Crist has lost so many campaign staffers that his sister is now running his third-party effort.

“When you’re not affiliated with a party, it can be very lonely, particularly initially,” Crist told The Hill in an hourlong phone interview.

Still, he insists he has no regrets about his decision, and offered criticism for the GOP activists who took a stand against him after he supported President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package.

“It just became increasingly apparent to me that a segment of the party was drifting so far to the right that it just wasn’t a place where I felt comfortable anymore,” Crist said.

“That level of acrimony and bitterness is what frustrates people today. There is this focus on being loyal to a party over the people, and it’s just wrong,” Crist said.

Crist won’t say which party he will caucus with in the Senate, if he is elected. When asked if he still considers himself a Republican, however, his answer is clearer: “I’m an independent. I’ve changed my registration.”

The governor won’t provide details on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) courtesy phone call last month, but said Reid was “gracious” and expressed a desire to open a line of communication.

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