Actress Bette Midler responds to insult hurled at Charlie Crist in Fort Lauderdale

Charlie Crist ready to sign books in Fort Lauderdale

Original post | 10:26 a.m. Feb. 22

Updated | 12:15 p.m. Feb. 24

Actress Bette Midler has injected herself into a Florida political controversy, criticizing a demonstrator who hurled insults at Democratic governor candidate Charlie Crist at the Fort Lauderdale stop on his book signing.

As he was leaving the Barnes & Noble on Thursday night, a small number of the counter-demonstrators organized by the Republican Party of Florida were still on hand. Many in the Republican group were active in Tea Party Fort Lauderdale, though most if not all had left by the time Crist exited the store at about 8:30 p.m.


Photos: Celeb-spotting around South Florida

One of the people in the group started yelling at Crist, and called him a “commie whore.” That was reported by Sun Sentinel Broward Politics on Twitter, which set off a series of reactions.

The Crist campaign sought to turn the incident to its advantage. Deputy campaign manager Jessica Clark sent out an email fundraising pitch to supporters that “individuals associated with the Tea Party decided to hurl offensive, abominable insults at Charlie….

“It’s one thing to voice disagreement; it’s another thing entirely to spout vile, ad hominem attacks. Unfortunately this is the sort of thing we’re up against,” she wrote.

Then, on Friday afternoon, Midler tweeted her criticism of the comment to her 535,000 followers, blaming “tea partiers.”

Kevin Cate, a spokesman for the Crist campaign, was among those who retweeted Midler’s tweet.

He said the campaign’s fundraising pitch made sense. “Our supporters need to understand the type of people that Charlie is up against: willing to say and do whatever it takes. And the fact that the Republican party of Florida and Rick Scott helped organize that protest.”

Here's the original Broward Politics tweet:

 

Here's what Midler said: