Nikki Fried ad misleads Crist’s stance on abortion access

With less than two months to go before Florida’s Democratic primary, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has stepped up her criticism of her opponent, U.S. Representative Charlie Crist.

Most of Fried’s criticism has focused on Crist’s past as a Republican, namely his inconsistent view of abortion access and reproductive freedom.

“Charlie Crist is pro-life and his opponent is pro-choice” read the words that appear in an advertisement that Fried shared on Twitter on June 28. The video brought together archival and recent footage of Crist juxtaposed with footage of Fried. Throughout the commercial, Crist is heard repeatedly saying, “Charlie Crist is pro-life. My opponent is pro-choice.”

The campaign ad has been viewed over 94,000 times. Fried also retweeted a user who, after seeing the video, described Crist as a “anti-abortion Democrat.

PolitiFact has verified claims related to Crist’s position on abortion more than six times. We couldn’t identify the precise origin of the audio used in this ad, but we do know that his attitude towards abortion is complicated and difficult to summarize. And this 30 second video distorts his current position.

When we asked Fried’s campaign about the ad, a spokesperson said Crist described himself as “pro-life” as recently as April. “Nikki Fried takes him at his word, and the word he uses is pro-life,” Caroline Korba, Fried’s publicist, told PolitiFact.

Here’s what Crist said about seven and a half minutes into the April 12 interview Korba was referring to:

“When I say I’m pro-life, I mean I’m pro-life, and I’m for a woman’s right to choose and make her own decisions about her body.”

Crist’s campaign also rejects the definition of “pro-life” that is used in most political debates. Asked about Crist’s past use of the term, spokesperson Joshua Karp differentiated Crist from those who generally describe themselves as “pro-life”. “These individuals are clearly not interested in women’s lives,” Karp said.

Crist’s story on the matter provides more information.

Her early career as a Republican state senator was marked by her belief that the decision to have an abortion should be up to women, not the government.

At the time, Crist defended his position by saying it matched Republican support for small government participation. Even so, her position on reproductive freedom had its limits.

He told the Miami Herald that he does not support state-funded abortion. He voted to ban abortion later in pregnancy, which critics call “late abortion”. Crist also told the Tampa Bay Times in 1998 that he was “pro-choice, but not pro-abortion”.

As he prepared to run for governor of Florida in 2006, Crist began using anti-abortion rhetoric. He won that race and became Governor of Florida for four years.

However, Crist’s abortion remarks continued to intrigue “activists on both sides of the abortion debate,” according to the Miami Herald.

Even as a Republican, Crist said he wouldn’t support repealing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, Roe v. Wade, who legalized abortion. Additionally, Crist said politicians shouldn’t “put themselves in the shoes of doctors.”

During an unsuccessful campaign for the United States Senate in 2010, Crist left the Republican Party. In 2012, he said in an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times that his decision was prompted by the party’s tendency to go “so far to the far right on issues important to women.”

Before leaving the governor’s office, Crist vetoed a law that would have required women to undergo an ultrasound before choosing to have an abortion.

Crist’s views on abortion before registering as a Democrat in 2012 were murky, but Fried’s announcement suggested his stance hadn’t changed. Crist has been a Democrat for nearly 10 years and he has consistently expressed support for reproductive rights.

In 2017, for example, Crist voted against federal legislation that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

He also voted against a bill to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit that provides health care services, including abortion.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund gave Crist a 100% rating for the 117th Congress, which met in 2021 and will run through January 2023. The rating is based on Crist’s votes on parenthood legislation. sexual and reproductive health.

Conversely, Crist has a 0% rating from the National Right to Life.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, meanwhile said on June 29 that her organization would not endorse any candidate over another in the August 23 primary because both are “pro- reproductive care”.

Our decision

Fried said, “Charlie Crist is pro-life.”

It is misleading. Although Crist has made conflicting statements regarding reproductive freedom throughout his decades in politics, even using the term “pro-life” to describe his position, he supports a woman’s right to choose.

The ad omitted Crist’s record over the past decade, in which he voted for legal abortion access for women.

Fried’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it mostly wrong.

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