Crist comes to Fort Myers, hits DeSantis hard | News, Sports, Jobs

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist made an appearance in Fort Myers on Tuesday and went on the offensive in describing his opponent, Gov. Ron DeSantis, as a political opportunist who is more interested in social issues and running for president in 2024 than for governor.

Crist spoke at Cafeteria La Familia on Fowler Street, surrounded by supporters and fellow candidates, and attacked DeSantis on his record regarding abortion, education, his lack of empathy and, especially, what he said was DeSantis’s recent political stunt where he sent nearly 50 Venezuelans migrants from Texas to Florida to Martha’s Vineyard.

“I talk about having a Florida for all, everybody included, nobody discriminated against,” Crist said. “The way the governor treats people is not that way. The stunt he pulled last week is horrifying. That he is willing to use human beings as pawns for his political game is disturbing and it exposes the true nature of him.”

Crist, who was Florida’s attorney general before becoming a Republican from 2006 to 2010, said he has called on the Department of Justice to look into possible criminal charges against DeSantis. A sheriff in Texas is also looking at possible charges.

Crist also attacked DeSantis on his handling of the homeowner’s insurance crisis, saying he “cares more about the White House than your house,” and on the price of housing and how even one-room apartments have become unaffordable.

Regarding education, Crist said he would care about students and teachers and teach facts, not what DeSantis wants to conform to his culture wars and his desire to divide people.

“He is trying to divide Florida and he is tearing her apart. That’s his MO. Pitting black against white, men against women, gay against straight, you name it,” Crist said. “We are such a diverse state and you would think Ron doesn’t have a clue.”

Crist said the governor is anti-democracy and trying to strip people of their freedom and making it harder for people to vote.

“This race is not right versus left. It has gotten so raw that it is right versus wrong,” Crist said. “The other side is loud and proud and that’s OK. But we need to be loud and proud, too. Don’t let anyone intimidate you from the Ron DeSantis election police.”

Crist finished by saying he would make sure the right for women to have an abortion stays intact. DeSantis signed a 15-week bill that has no exception for rape or incest.

“That’s how little he respects women. Imagine your daughter gets raped and she would have to bear a child because of the bill the governor signed,” Crist said. “Who could vote for that person? A woman’s right to choose is the issue of this election.”

Alethia Shapiro, a mother of three, spoke about having to get an abortion in her 17th week of pregnancy because of a fetal anomaly. She said people abort because they have to, usually for medical reasons.

“Thank God I was living in New York and had family support and the best doctors and hospitals who took care of a very heartbreaking situation,” Shapiro said. “If I lived in Florida, I would not have qualified and I feel like stories like mine are missing from the narrative. I didn’t know about it until I got my amneo after 16 weeks.”

Many office seekers came to watch. Cindy Banyai, a Democrat running for the US Congress in the 19th District against Republican incumbent Byron Donalds, said she was happy to see Crist come to the district.

“He knows how important this area is and how many voters we have. Charlie is a great vote flipper and he’s going to help us win Southwest Florida,” Banyai said. “He can bring unity because he can talk to people on both sides of the aisle.

Howard Sapp, a Democrat who is running in the State House race in District 78 against Republican incumbent Jenna Persons-Mulicka, said one side is looking at some of the national issues from a perspective that doesn’t seem inclusive.

“We see what’s happening with abortion and immigration and education and those things are a concern to a lot of people and they are not being adequately addressed,” Sapper said. “We know it won’t happen overnight but we have to begin somewhere and that will be on Nov. 8.”

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