Crist: No Labels Can Restore Civility

By: Pam Forrester, The News Service of Florida
By: Pam Forrester, The News Service of Florida

A new group of centrist politicians called No Labels will be more of a movement rather than a new third political party, its leaders said Monday in rolling out what they say will be a centrist effort to take politics back from the extremes.

Gov. Charlie Crist – one of the most high profile independent politicians in the country – attended the group’s inaugural event in New York. Crist, universally considered one of the most polite people in politics – said the group would be aimed at bringing civility to government, as much or more than fostering a centrist ideological movement.

“This group is making a difference by creating civil dialogue, civil debate and mutual respect. They don’t attack personally but discuss the issues,” Crist said. “Like Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill would say, ‘let’s have civil debate even though we disagree.’”

Nancy Jacobson, a longtime Democratic fundraiser, and a founder of the No Label organization, said the group wasn’t interested in being a new party and urged followers to keep their current party affiliations.

“Don’t give up your label,” Jacobson said. “Just put it aside to change the behavior in Washington.”

In a roll out event that was one part pep rally one part civics discussion, No Labels put forward Crist, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, U.S. Rep. Mike Castle - the Delware Congressman defeated in the Republican U.S. Senate primary by Christine O’Donnell - Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and other prominent “moderates” to draw attention to its mission.

The group unveiled a color scheme taking from both parties - red and blue - but ditching the donkey and elephant in favor of butterflies, giraffes and moose on its logo as it tries to restore a place for the center in American politics. “Not right, not left, forward,” is the group’s motto.

The event Monday drew an audience of about 1,000, many of whom said they were frustrated by the tenor of politics in the nation.

“I’m tired of the inability to address issues in the political system, our government is dysfunctional,” said Ethan Berkowitz, who attended the gathering from Alaska.

Another attendee was former state Sen. Dave Aronberg, who lost the Democratic primary for attorney general.

“When I was running for office, I was accused of not being Democratic enough,” said Aronberg, who had to leave the Senate to run for AG – and so is now out of a job. “That’s ridiculous. I’m tired of the hyper-partisanship in politics.”

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