Florida Governor Charlie Crist won't win over many of his conservative critics with his latest move -- declaring emphatically that the president's stimulus has created tens of thousands of jobs in his state and expressing "not one iota" of regret for working with Obama (indeed, hugging him) on the jobs-creating proposal.
Appearing outside the White House on Monday, the Florida Republican Senatorial candidate pushed back against his GOP critics -- notably Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) -- who have declared that the stimulus has not created one single job in America.
"It is not the case in Florida -- we accepted the stimulus money; all of my fellow governors did," Crist said. "I think it was the responsible and right thing to do for the people and it puts people above politics. In Florida alone, for example, it created or maintained at least 87,000 jobs; 27,000 of those jobs are educators and teachers throughout the state. I dare say what the impact would be throughout the state if those teachers were out of work, unable to put bread on the table of their families. This is necessary and it relates to job creation."
Asked later if he has any regrets over appearing alongside Obama at a presidential visit to Florida to tout the stimulus's benefits, he replied: "None whatsoever."
"In fact, I talked about it this morning," Crist explained. "I don't apologize for it at all. It was the right thing to do. We needed the money. It saved 87,00 jobs for our state. I was raised to respect the presidency of the United States. And the man who occupies the office now and I don't agree on everything, but by golly when we agree on something, and that means helping the people of the state I was elected to govern, I'm going to be there and I'm going to thank him."
Crist has been pilloried by his conservative critics, including primary challenger Marco Rubio, for embracing Obama, both metaphorically and physically. He said the heat he got for that moment doesn't bother him at all. "Not one iota," he said. "[Rubio's] wrong and I'm right."
Not all prominent Republican governors were as gracious to the White House. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.), refused to answer repeated questions about whether the stimulus has created a single job in his state, merely telling the Huffington Post that he philosophically opposed the package.
"The president's own economists said it was going to keep unemployment below eight percent -- it hasn't done that," he said. "Again, I disagreed with the stimulus last year. I didn't think it was the right approach for the country."