Crist: GOP Career Ended When I Hugged ‘Not Just a Democrat, [But] an African American’

By Barbara Boland | February 17, 2014 | 3:21 PM EST

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

( -- Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor of Florida (now running for the position as a Democrat), was asked on “The Colbert Report” about his 2009 hug with President Barack Obama and Crist said the blowback he received for the hug was due to Obama being “not just a Democrat, [but] an African-American.”

Crist appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” to discuss his book, “The Party’s Over.” As the summary on Comedy Central states, Crist was there to explain “how the rise of the Tea Party drove him to become a Democrat.”

Stephen Colbert, the show’s host, quoted Crist’s book where he claims that his hug with Obama was a “simple gesture, ended my career as a viable Republican politician. It changed the rest of my life.”

Colbert then asked,  “Why do you think it [the hug] ended it for you?”

Crist said, “Several reasons, I think. Number 1, he was there to talk about the Recovery Act, the stimulus. And a lot of Republicans took issue with that. Sadly, I think another part of it was that he was a Democrat, but not just a Democrat, an African-American.”

Colbert, “Oh, you’re not going to play the race card.”

Crist, “I’m not going to play it, no.”

Colbert, “You just did, you just did – would you like to pick it up again and put it in your pocket? Because you just played the race card.”

Comedian Stephen Colbert, host of the program "Colbert Report." (AP)

Crist laughed and then said,  “Yeah, you know, I’m just trying to tell the truth. I’ve seen a level of vitriol directed at this president that I have never seen directed at President Kennedy or maybe President Johnson or even President Carter.”

Colbert then said, “All right. If, in the course of the campaign, you were approached by three men who were about to hug you: Josef Stalin, Darth Vader, or Barack Obama, you have to hug one of them, which would it be?”

“My president, no question,” said Crist.  “I love him.”

“That is – Barack Obama?” said Colbert.

Crist nodded.

Charlie Crist, who served as Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011, is now running against incumbent Rick Scott (R-Fl.) for the position in 2014.