(The Center Square) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist appears to have compared himself to Jesus Christ and Gov. Ron DeSantis to Satan at a campaign event in which he spoke about “decency.”
In his remarks, Crist said he’s fighting for freedom in Florida like Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. He described Zelensky as “amazing,” referring to his “courage, strength, and decency.”
Crist then compared the war between Ukraine and Russia, which has displaced millions of people and in which people from multiple countries have died, to the 2022 Fla. gubernatorial election.
“This is an election about decency. About being decent to one another. About being kind to everyone. It’s called a [Fla.] for all. We got a divider on the other side and a uniter over here,” he said.
“You know some people call him DeSatan?” Crist said of Gov. DeSantis, to which the audience laughed. Have you heard that?”
A female member of the audience interjected: “That’s one of the nicer ones.”
He continued, “DeSatan versus that,” pointing to a sign on the wall with Crist’s name on it. “Think about it,” he said, when a woman in the room said, “Christ,” referring to Crist.
Crist smiled and said, “the choice” in the election “is clear: he’s bad, we’re good.”
DeSantis’ campaign responded to the video by saying Crist was “delusional.”
“In just one minute, Charlie Crist compares himself to both Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Jesus Christ,” the campaign said. “Can you feel the UNITY?”
Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’ campaign manager, tweeted, “Charlie Crist has claimed on multiple occasions to be like Jesus Christ and called his opponent ‘DeSatan,’ but I don’t see the Miami Herald writing about that rhetoric or aggressive language.”
Pushaw was referring to a story published by the news outlet in which its bureau chief claimed DeSantis is “tapping into the Christian nationalism movement in his rhetoric and policies.”
The term “Christian nationalism” has been used by some in the media to label some Americans with conservative or Christian values without giving evidence to support the generalization.
“But unlike religious conservatives of the past,” the bureau chief wrote, DeSantis’s “language is more aggressive, using war imagery to decide who is the better American.”
DeSantis hasn’t compared himself to Jesus Christ or anyone to Satan, according to an analysis of his remarks by The Center Square. Nor has he compared a war being waged overseas to a spiritual battle he referenced in recent remarks.
He quoted Ephesians 6 from the Bible, referring to “putting on the armor of God.” Many Christians understand this phrase to refer to a personal spiritual struggle, not a political one, in which God acts on behalf of his people, as explained by Ligonier Ministries.
Crist’s Satan/Christ comparison surfaced after he defended Joe Biden calling Republicans fascists last month. He told CNN the president “was being honest about what he feels in his heart and in his soul.”
A previous Republican governor of Fla., Crist won the Democratic primary on Aug. 23. He told his potentially former Republican supporters not to vote for him if they support DeSantis.
“If you have that hate in your heart, keep it there. I want the vote of the people of [Fla.] who care about our state: good Democrats, good Independents good Republicans. Unify with this ticket. Those who are haters: you’re gonna go off in your own world,” he said.
According to a RealClear Politics average, DeSantis is leading Crist in the polls by 4 points with neither candidate topping 50%.
According to other polls, DeSantis leads Crist by 5 points (Fox 35/InsiderAdvantage), 4 points (Susquehanna) and 3 points (Fabrizio/Anzalone).