Washington — Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., blasted Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist Wednesday for claiming that one reason he bolted from the Republican Party was because it 'was so unfriendly toward the African-American president.'
Rubio, appearing on Fox's 'Your World with Neil Cavuto,' asked if Crist, who served as Florida's governor as a Republican, held those beliefs, why didn't he leave the party earlier?
'Why didn't he say I'm not running as a Republican because I think the Republican Party has become what he accuses it of becoming, and why didn't he switch to Democrat? Why didn't he run as an independent? Why didn't he do that at the time?'
In an interview Tuesday with Miami's Fusion, Crist said a big reason he left the Republican Party in 2010 was bigotry towards President Barack Obama.
'It was because I couldn't be consistent with myself and my core beliefs and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president, I will just go there,' Crist said in the interview. 'You know, because I was a Republican, and I saw the activists and what they were doing, it was intolerable.'
Crist left the Republican Party in 2010 while trailing Rubio in the Republican Senate primary race. Crist unsuccessfully ran for the Senate as an independent. Rubio, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said Rubio bolted the party because he was losing, an accusation Crist denied.
Speaking on Cavuto's show, Rubio called Crist's race claim 'ridiculous and silly.'
'I have never met a single Republican activist involved in my campaign that has ever - in my opinion, ever been motivated by race to state their objections," Rubio said.
With his remarks, Crist became the latest Democratic lawmaker to contend that Obama has been a victim of bigotry during his presidency. Retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., earlier this week said that some lawmakers 'don't want anything good to happen under this president, because he's the wrong color.'
Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said last month on CNN's 'State of the Union' that 'To a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism.'
Last week, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, asserted last month that Republicans have opposed Obama mainly because he's African-American.
'I've been here a long time...,' Thompson, an 11-term House member said. 'I've never seen the venom put forth on another candidate or president like I've seen with this president. And that's my opinion.'
Thompson, on a weekend Nation of Islam radio show, also called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who's African-American, an 'Uncle Tom.'
Read more here Rep. Bennie Thompson stands by remarks about race