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Charlie Crist's evolution nearly complete

President Obama and Charlie Crist in 2009.
President Obama and Charlie Crist in 2009.Associated Press

In early 2010, Charlie Crist was a moderate Republican governor of one the nation's most electorally important swing states. He was the overwhelming favorite to win a U.S. Senate seat, had an impressive resume, and there was plenty of chatter about Crist becoming a national GOP leader and likely presidential candidate.

In 2012, Crist, rejected by his party for failing to toe the right-wing line, is on a very different path. He's now a registered independent, he holds no public office, and in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed published over the weekend, Crist made the case for President Obama's re-election.

As America prepares to pick our president for the next four years -- and as Florida prepares once again to play a decisive role -- I'm confident that President Barack Obama is the right leader for our state and the nation. I applaud and share his vision of a future built by a strong and confident middle class in an economy that gives us the opportunity to reap prosperity through hard work and personal responsibility. It is a vision of the future proven right by our history.

We often remind ourselves to learn the lessons of the past, lest we risk repeating its mistakes. Yet nearly as often, our short-term memory fails us. Many have already forgotten how deep and daunting our shared crisis was in the winter of 2009, as President Obama was inaugurated. It was no ordinary challenge, and the president served as the nation's calm through a historically turbulent storm.

And what of the party Crist used to call home? The former governor decries "an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims."

Making matters slightly more interesting, we learned this morning that Crist will also have a role at the Democratic National Convention next week.

For Obama, it's beneficial to have Crist's support and political network behind him in light of Florida's significance. For Crist, don't be surprised if/when he runs for governor in 2014 as a Democrat -- perhaps even enjoying Obama's blessing, if the president wins a second term.