updated 2/22/2013 7:16:14 PM ET 2013-02-23T00:16:14

Crist, who’s frequently mentioned as a candidate for Florida governor again, would fare well (if the race were held today). According to a recent survey, Crist would beat Scott 53% to 39% in a head-to-head matchup.

Takes one to know one?

Charlie Crist–the former governor of Florida who left the Republican party and joined the Democrats –called current Sunshine State Gov. Rick  Scott’s reversal on Medicaid “just stunning.”

“The only rationale I can apply to it is that it’s a re-election [issue] and [the switch] will benefit a million Floridians…It’s just a stunning reversal, which is pretty amazing to watch and witness” he said on Friday’s Hardball.  Scott has had “this dramatic change of heart that is a metamorphosis the likes of which is hard to compare,” Crist said.

Scott’s approval ratings are indeed dismal, and he’s up for re-election in 2014. According to a recent PPP poll, just 33% of Florida voters said they approved of him, compared to 57% that disapproved.

Crist, who’s frequently mentioned as a candidate for Florida governor again, would fare quite well if he decides to run—at least if the race were held today.  According to PPP, Crist would beat Scott 53% to 39% in a head-to-head matchup.

The former governor told host Chris Matthews that favorable poll results are  ”nice to see but… it’s awfully early for something like that.”

Scott created waves this week after he agreed to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid for three years. Less than a year ago, following the Supreme Court decision that the Affordable Healthcare Act is constitutional,  Scott declared it would be “devastating for patients, devastating for tax payers, it’s going to be the biggest job-killer ever. We’re not going to implement Obamacare in Florida.”

He added, “We’re not going to expand Medicaid because we’re going to do the right thing. We’re not going to do the exchange because what this does is raise the cost of healthcare for all Floridians. It just doesn’t work.”

Bloomberg View columnist and MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter said governors like South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley or Texas Gov. Rick Perry who have said they won’t take the federal funds for Medicaid are being “cruel to people in your state.”

“They’re not only screwing poor people, they’re screwing what’s called the ‘sandwich generation’…people who have kids living at home and also elderly parents,” he told Matthews.

Crist said the way he looks at it is,  “A lot of Floridians’ money went up to Washington D.C.  It’s going to end up somewhere. Why not accept it, take it back, to benefit your fellow Floridians?”

Crist has also been accused of switching his position on Obamacare. In 2010, when he ran for Senate against Republican Marco Rubio as an independent, Crist said he would have voted in favor of Obama’s healthcare plan if he were elected. His campaign later said he “misspoke.”

Video: Florida’s health care reversal, governor embraces Medicaid expansion

  1. Closed captioning of: Florida’s health care reversal, governor embraces Medicaid expansion

    >>> while the federal government is committed to paying 100% of the cost, i cannot in good conscience deny floridians that need access to health care . we will support a three-year expansion of our medicaid program under the new health care law . even though i believe that the right approach is different than the president's approach, we have a supreme court decision, and we have an election that says this is the law of the land .

    >> welcome back to "hardball." this is search a new tune for florida governor rick scott to be whistling. he was the leader of the republican pac of governors who vowed to reject impleamenttation of the president's health care plan at all costs. here is governor rick scott less than a year ago following the supreme court decision that said health care reform was constitutional.

    >> this is going to be devastating for parts, devastating for taxpayers, it's going to be the biggest job killer ever. we're not going to implement obama care in florida . we're not going to expand medicaid because we're going to do the right thing. we're not going to do the exchange because what this does is raise the cost of health care for all floridians. it just doesn't work.

    >> also during governor scott 's tenure he pushed to disenfranchise some of his state's voters by limiting early voti voting. before he was governor, the business he founded was involved in a medicaid fraud for which is paid a settlement. scott was not personally accused of wrongdoing but the company's board removed him as ceo. it was all with this in mind we look at governor scott 's current change of heart on president obama 's affordable care act . charlie crist is the former governor of florida who left the republican party and joined the democrats. he's also frequently mentioned as a candidate for florida governor next time. and jonathan alter is a columnist for bloomberg view and an msnbc analyst. governor, thanks so much for joining us. you're a favorite of this show, as you know. and i want to ask you, explain the 180 here. this guy was one of those -- was it just campaign talk last summer?

    >> well, it must have been. i mean, i don't know how else you can analyze it, chris. it's obvious he has a re-election he's coming up on next year. you have this dramatic change of heart that is a metamore if sis the likes of which is hard to compare. the only rationale i can apply to it is it's a re-election and it will benefit a million floridians and i'm glad it's happening for that reason, frankly, but it's just a stunning reversal which is pretty amazing to watch and witness.

    >> you know, i can't help remember as you and i probably agree on this the wonderful echoes of politics and the ironies thereof. there you were accused by your opponent in that senate race of accepting federal money out of the stimulus package as if this was a stupid thing to do when in fact it was a sound decision later ratified by governor christie of new jersey who said of course you take federal help when you're getting it. right? it seems to me --

    >> it was the right thing to do.

    >> yeah. and now this guy is saying --

    >> exactly.

    >> -- do it, do it.

    >> well, the way i looked at it back then and the way we should look at these medicaid dollars is in the same light. a lot of floridians' money went to washington , d.c. it's going to end up going somewhere . why not accept it, take it back to benefit your fellow floridians. that was my philosophy on the stimulus money back in 2009 in supporting the president. that's what my philosophy would be about the medicaid money and making sure you help, you know, those lesser income floridians who need this nornd to get health care . for them and their families.

    >> john, it's hard not to argue with the analysis that we just got from the governor. i certainly prompted it to some extent because i believe it. election time bs went on last summer. i'm not going to take any obama care. i'm going to do slow burning nullification. i'm not going to let this guy become legitimized by history and now what do you know, common sense , this obama care is going to be popular i guess with the governors.

    >> well, and they're paying 100% of the medicaid expansion. i mean, it is just cruel to the people in your state if you're nicki healey in south carolina or rick perry in texas who are still saying they don't want to take this money. they're not only screwing poor people , they're screwing what's called the sandwich generation . you know, the people who have kids living at home and also elderly parents because what's happening is so much of medicaid money is used for the elderly, not just for the poor, that a lot of those elderly will now move in with their children into rec room , the den, wherever they might be able to live because these medicaid funds are being cut in these states where governors idiotically don't want to take the money.

    >> florida governor rick scott joins republican governors from six other states who are vocal opponents of the president's health care plan and are now getting on board. people like arizona's governor jan brewer and michigan governor rick schneider among others. governor crist, it looks like the flow is in the direction of cooperation with the president.

    >> well, and that's a positive sign. i mean, you know, obviously the president got re-elected. he got re-elected handily. i think that should send a message to people all across the country and clearly here in florida , he took florida , too, and that was in doubt for quite some time as you know, but he did take florida . he did well in the sunshine state , and i think the message is very clear that, you know, the people want common sense . they want those in washington to work together. they also want them to coordinate with governors around the country to do what's right for the people at large. not necessarily what somebody may think is hard right or hard left but what's right for most of the people, what is common sense , and what the people deserve from their elected leaders.

    >> let's do some math here florida governor rick scott , i'm no fan of that guy-his approval numbers are in the tank. i guess a lot of people in florida agree with me. 33% of floridians approve of the job he's doing. that's rick scott . 57% disapprove. that's a high number of disapproval according to this automated ppp poll in january. here is a good one, governor crist in a hypothetical marvup, you win handily. it's an early number obviously. what do you make of that number, 53% to 39%, you being 53%, governor. rick scott against you.

    >> well, you know, it's nice to see, but you're right, it's awfully early for something like that. i mean, you know, we're just under two years away from the election itself, and so a lot of things can happen.

    >> it's hardly discouraging.

    >> but i think it clearly indicates -- no, you're right, it's no the discouraging. well, not for me. but at any rate, it's the kind of thing that, you know, you look at those numbers and you see what's happening, and obviously there's been a shift in the feelings of people across the country. i have seen the republican party , at least the leadership of the party i should say, kind of go off the deep end . i mean, they see it in washington . they saw it here initially with the election of 2010 , and after a while they're like scratching their heads, is this really the kind of governance that we want? don't we want more common sense , more mainstream? ned of, you know, sort of an intolerant party that doesn't really care about people who need some help once in a while , and have a compassionate heart about them. and i think they've come around to the view that they don't like that hardline stuff.

    >> you ought to read michael gerson today. he talks like you. the former speechwriter for george w. he talks like you. jonathan last thought from you about this change of heart from chief executives in states who are not dealing with talk or rhetoric but reality. they're coming aboard for obama care.

    >> big picture was it was an attempt to wrench the country to the right and the center held. so people are now saying, no, we are at centrist nation, and these ideologues who hate obama and want to twist their state's policies to do anything to get the president, they're really out of fashion now and we're returning to some common sense , which is very, very good news.

    >> and you're quoting yates. thank you very much. charlie crist , thank you. and jonathan alter , thanks both, gentlemen.

    >>> it's oscar time even here. the academy awards are sunday night. we have the great james lipton to preview the big night . he's coming here, and this is "hardball," the


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