State Sen. Dave Aronberg, a Democratic candidate for attorney general, is trying to appeal across party lines with an eye toward the general election. He's portraying himself as a politician focused on principles rather than partisan warfare.
The "About Dave" page on his campaign Web site says, "The Naples Daily News called him 'the real deal,' and Governor Charlie Crist has praised him as "a rock star." It does not explain the context or source for the Crist quote.
Given how partisan politics have become, it's surprising to see such favorable comments from someone of the opposite party. So we wondered if the Republican governor really described a Democratic legislator and attorney in such favorable terms.
"To be honest, about anything Sen. Aronberg does is important to me," Crist said when asked about Aronberg's proposal to revise state sex offender residency rules. "The guy is brilliant. He's a rockstar, and I have such great respect for him. And he's just a good, decent man. And almost everything I can think of that he's ever promoted or pushed has been something I'm able to support gladly."
The "rock star" quote was repeated in several other articles, mostly in the Palm Beach Post. A May 14, 2007, Palm Beach Post article said: "After Crist gushed last month about Greenacres Democratic state Sen. Dave Aronberg ('The guy is brilliant. I mean, he's almost a rock star.'), Aronberg got a tape and planned to give it to his mom for Mother's Day."
You'll notice the Post version of the quote includes the qualifier "almost," but we listened to audio from the original Miami Herald interview and indeed Crist unequivocally says, "He's a rock star."
The "rock star" quote even played a role in a debate among Republicans about whether to support Aronberg. A Palm Beach County-based lobbyist wanted to launch a Republican committee to endorse Aronberg "citing the Democrat as 'honest' and having 'integrity,' and invoking Crist's praise of Aronberg as a 'rock star,' " the Palm Beach Post reported July 19, 2008. Then party chair Jim Greer nixed the idea of the Republican party backing the Democrat.
So Aronberg is correct. Crist sang his praises and put him on the big stage. We find his claim True.
UPDATE: This item was updated on March 6, 2010, because audio of the original quote shows Crist did not use "almost" as a qualifier.