Crist and Obama: The Odd Couple
By Jennifer Agiesta
President Obama and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will make an unlikely pair as they join forces this afternoon in Fort Myers for a town hall meeting on the economic stimulus package roiling Capitol Hill. But the two share more than the stage: the Democratic president and the Republican governor are among the most popular politicians in the Sunshine State.
Both are viewed favorably by about two-thirds of Floridians, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted late last month. In that poll, Crist and Obama each had sky-high favorable ratings from political independents, lending the partnership added significance. Both Crist, who faces reelection in 2010, and Obama are betting political capital on the success of the stimulus package.
Florida's economy has been hard hit by the economic crisis, with an unemployment rate that's nearly doubled over the past year. In the Fort Myers area, the rate has hit double-digits. As Crist took office in 2007, the rate stood at 3 percent.
And Obama's popularity could benefit from having Crist join him on stage. Besides having broader cross-party support, Crist is also the more popular figure in the region: According to Quinnipiac's polling, 73 percent hold a favorable opinion of the governor in Southwestern Florida and 62 percent have a positive take on the president.
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