But that was when both were Republicans.
Now Crist is attempting to win back his old job as a Democrat.
And LeMieux, a former Broward Republican chairman and former top Crist aide who lives in Lighthouse Point, is an opposition force.
When Crist announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on Monday, the Republican Party of Florida arranged for LeMieux to offer up the party’s response.
Here are extended excerpts of what he said in a conference call with reporters:
“With today’s announcement Charlie Crist has done something which is really in my mind breathtaking, not only in Florida but in the country.
“In my view this is the largest change of position by a leading American political figure in as quick of a period of time as we’ve had in recent American history.
“I heard one commentator say today that Charlie Crist has had more positions than a gymnast, and I think that’s right. He’s been in three parties now in a little more than three and a half years, and has been on at least two sides if not three sides of every issue. The Charlie Crist that I knew and had the opportunity to work with called himself a Reagan conservative. He extolled the virtues of less taxing, less spending, more freedom. He said that Sarah Palin for example would be a great vice presidential candidate for John McCain.
“And as many of you know talked about the values of being a conservative and of the Republican Party, of Reagan’s party of Lincoln’s party his entire career.
“Now he’s running from the Democratic Party and while it is a different set of ideals, it’s not just that, it’s that he’s extolling virtues and values that literally three and a half years ago he was condemning and was on the opposite side of.
I” think anyone who wants to be in high political office has to have a guiding set of principles upon which they can make decisions. And those principles are certainly in question here. As [Florida Republican] Chairman [Lenny] Curry said, the ad today cites leading Democrats including former presidential candidate Al Gore, who said it was unusual to have someone flip flop then flop flip.
“I wasn’t at the press conference today that Governor Crist gave, but I did hear some of the, read some of the commentary. And nowhere in that commentary did I see why he wants to be governor, or what he would do as governor. Just a lot of criticism of Governor Scott.
“This election is going to come down to credibility, and it’s going to come down to believability and values that the people of Florida can look at and say this is where that person stands. And I think as this election sorts itself out, the people of Florida will realize that there’s only one person running for governor who has a set of core values that that person is willing to act upon, and that’s Governor Scott.
“The people of Florida are very smart. And they know Charlie Crist. And they’ve seen him as a Republican his whole career. And they are not going to be fooled by the fact that he’s now running as a liberal Democrat, now someone who’s embracing Obama and not Reagan like he was just a few short years ago.”
Question about whether it’s unseemly to attack Crist since he did so much for LeMieux.
“My points about Charlie Crist today are not personal. My points are about his viewpoints and why he’s running for governor. It is still possible in this state and in this country to look at the professional aspects of someone and not make it personal. And my comments are about where are his values and issues as someone running for public office. That’s what’s really important for the people of the state of Florida.
“We’ve had a very difficult recession. This has been the worst recession in 70 years. We are just fighting our way out of it, and thanks to good work that Governor Scott has done in creating with the people of Florida more than 365,000 jobs we’re on the way back. But we can’t walk backward, we can’t fall backward. The people of Florida are depending upon this governor to continue the good government that’s leading to job creation.
“And that’s why I’m speaking for, it’s not out of any personal animosity. It’s because I believe that Rick Scott has been a good governor and will be a good governor for the next four years if he’s reelected, and why I’m speaking out today.”
Question about assessing the state of play.
“I think like every race in Florida, it will be a competitive race. Florida is not a red state it’s not a blue state. It’s really a purple state. So any time you have a major election it’s going to be potentially close. We don’t know who the Democratic nominee is going to be. Let’s not call this race before it happens….
“But if it’s between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist I think it’s going to be extremely competitive. And what I’ve seen especially over the past few months is a growing support for Rick Scott in this state. As I travel around this state and see people meet Rick Scott and hear from Rick Scott and be very impressed with what he’s doing for Florida. So I think it will be very competitive and I think that Rick Scott will win.”
Question about criticizing Crist now even though LeMieux was working for him when Crist started to differ from Republican orthodoxy.
“I think there’s a big difference between having one issue or two issues that may be different than the majority of Republicans. And the Republican Party should be and is in my view a big enough of a tent to capture people of different views on some issues. But we’re not talking about that now. What we’re talking about now is a wholesale change in his views. A change to positions that are contrary. And I think that’s what Charlie Crist will have to explain as he runs for governor in this state now as a Democrat. Is he still for Second Amendment rights? He was once called Chain Gang Charlie. Is he still for 10-20-life and serving 85 percent of your time? Is he still against any tax increase? Is he still against a state income tax? Does he still believe Florida should be a right to work state? I mean all of the things that we have known Charlie Crist to be about now have to all be questioned and I’m sure that you all will do the job that you always do to make sure those questions get answered.”
Question about LeMieux’s relationship with and debt to Crist.
“My personal relationship with him, I am still very grateful to the opportunities he gave me for public service. What I’m so disappointed in and what I said when he ran against Marco Rubio and left the Republican Party and what I say today as him running as a Democrat is not about personal. It’s about this state and it’s about guiding principles and philosophy. I liked the Republican Charlie Crist who was a Ronald Reagan conservative, who said Jeb Bush was America’s greatest governor, who believed in limited government. I don’t know who this new Charlie Crist can be as a Democrat, because those aren’t the values of that party. So if he is going to be let’s say an Obama Democrat and believe in expanding the size of government greatly, and running a debt and deficit and believing in new taxes, that’s not the Charlie Crist I know. So he is unrecognizable to me in this new form of his, and he’s got a lot of explaining to do.”
Question about whether the Crist is right that the Republican Party has moved too far to the right.
“The Republican Party has work to do. It lost the last election to President Obama. He was re-elected. That is always a sign that a party needs to do some internal reflection and work toward making sure that it’s attracting a broad portion of the electorate. And I think the Republican Party is doing that. And I think that you’re going to see some election results potentially as early as tomorrow that reference the fact that Republicans have found a way to recapture the support of the American people.
“But you know doing your own house cleaning, doing your own internal workings within the party to make sure that you’re the best party you can be. Leaving the party, because you want to run either for the U.S. Senate or then now leaving that the independent group to go be a Democrat to run for governor it think that’s completely different.
“I don’t know any politician in the history of America that’s changed so many of their beliefs so quickly as my friend Charlie Crist. And that’s really the question for the people of Florida is who is this person who’s running? What do they believe in? What is he going to if he were elected? What would he do? And I think that there’s really no answer to those questions because he’s changed positions so much that he’s unrecognizable now in Florida politics. I wish it weren’t that way. It’s sad to me that it is, but unfortunately announcing today as a Democrat he has shown that.”
Here’s Crist’s response, via email, to LeMieux’s criticism:
“George was a friend and a trusted colleague for much of my career in public service, and it was an honor to give my friend the honor of serving his state in the United States Senate.
“When I was Governor, George and I didn't always agree, but I never let those differences get in the way of how we governed or more importantly, our trusted friendship. It is on that personal level that his words are most disappointing.
“George is just playing the political game, I get it. But I am not running to play games. I am running for Governor to get our state back on track and put the people back in charge.”