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'I think we're going to beat this guy': Crist makes 1st campaign stop in race vs. DeSantis

He met and shook hands with patrons at a St. Petersburg restaurant.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — About 12 hours after winning the Democratic nomination for governor, Charlie Crist was out on the campaign trail.

The longtime Florida politician made the rounds at Kissin' Cousins, a popular breakfast restaurant in his hometown of St. Petersburg, where he met and shook hands with patrons.

The 66-year-old already served one term as a Republican governor for Florida more than a decade ago. Now a Democrat serving in Congress, he's hoping to convince voters he's best for Tallahassee.

"People are yearning and thirsting for decency and kindness, for a governor with a heart, that cares about your children," Crist said.

He didn't waste anytime going on the attack telling reporters Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has torn apart the state.

"I think we're going to beat this guy, I really do. I know nobody else thinks so but I know so because I know Florida," Crist said.

RELATED: Florida Democrats choose Rep. Crist to challenge DeSantis

RELATED: Rep. Val Demings breezes through Democratic primary on way to challenge Sen. Marco Rubio

Crist knows he has an uphill battle — the state has more registered Republican voters than registered Democrats, DeSantis has gained tremendous notoriety over the last few years and the DeSantis campaign is racking in the money.

When asked how to sway DeSantis supporters, Crist said, "Those who support the governor should stay with him and vote for him and I don’t want your vote. If you have that hate in your heart, keep it there."

In an email seeking campaign donations from supporters soon after the race was called for Crist, DeSanits said, in part: "Since being elected, I’ve worked each and every day towards bettering the lives of all who call the Sunshine State home. My goal is, and always will be, to leave Florida to God better than we started with."

The road to Tallahassee is rooted in Pinellas County as both DeSantis and Crist are from the area. DeSantis grew up in Dunedin and Crist is from St. Petersburg.

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