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The Case for Charlie Crist

Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has been all over the national news lately.

On the policy front, he backed up Sen. John McCain's (R) call for lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling, a reversal of his opposition to drilling spurred, Crist said, by the high price of gas.

On the personal front, Crist announced his engagement to Carole Rome; the couple had been dating for nine months.

VP Watch

So, given all the attention paid to Crist of late, does he merit being McCain's vice presidential pick later this summer?

Today we make the case for McCain to pick Crist. Tomorrow we argue the opposite side. (Looking for past "cases for/cases against"? Check out the "Veepstakes" category on The Fix.)

Florida, Florida, Florida

The Sunshine State has been at the epicenter of the race for the White House in the last two presidential elections. In 2000, it was literally the linchpin on which the presidency turned while four years later there was slightly less drama as President Bush won a 52 percent to 47 percent victory over Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) in the state.

Conventional wisdom heading into this fall's presidential election is that Florida is McCain's to lose -- especially given the lingering tensions between supporters of Barack Obama and backers of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton remains extremely popular in Florida -- particularly among the state's influential Jewish and Hispanic voters -- and polling has long suggested she would have been a more formidable foe against McCain than Obama.

Charlie Crist and John McCain
Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist stands with Sen. John McCain in Florida in June. (AP Photo/David Adame)

But, two recent developments suggest that Florida may not be the cakewalk for McCain that many observers believe.

The first is the report that seven (seven!) times more Democrats have registered to vote than Republicans since the first of the year in Florida. Democratic registration increased by more than 100,000 in that time while Republican registration grew by less than 17,000.

The second is Obama's decision to advertise aggressively in the state. His latest ad, which hit Sunshine State airwaves yesterday, touts his bipartisan work with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) to secure loose nuclear materials.

Obama's willingness to spend money and campaign extensively in Florida coupled with Democratic registration gains there suggest that the race could be far more competitive than currently assumed.

Regardless of whether you believe Florida is a genuine toss-up or a leaning Republican state, adding Crist to the ticket helps.

In a toss-up race, Crist could make the difference as he not only has a demonstrated appeal at the ballot box (and high approval ratings to boot) but also has surrounded himself with a highly regarded political team -- both in Florida and Washington.

If the state already leans toward McCain, then naming Crist would put it away before Labor Day -- taking a hugely expensive state off the battleground map and allowing McCain, who is likely to be operating at a significant financial deficit to Obama, to re-allocate resources to other large states like Ohio and Michigan.

It's a win-win proposition.

It's All About the Benjamins

As we noted above, Obama's decision to opt out of public financing means that McCain is going to be running from behind (financially) for much of the general election.

McCain's best hope is to raise vast sums of money for the Republican National Committee Victory Fund in hopes that the national party can supplement the $84 million (or so) he will get from public financing.

Outside of California and New York, there is no state filled with more political money than Florida. (According to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Florida is the fourth largest state in terms of giving to the presidential candidates in this election; it trails California, New York and Texas.) Crist raised $60 million ($20 million for his campaign, $40 million for the state party) during the 2006 gubernatorial race despite state laws that limit contributions to $500 per donor.

As one unaligned Republican strategist put it: "Charlie is a strong fundraiser who is willing to ask for the moon. He is not shy."

Given McCain's well-documented problems with fundraising, which have improved since becoming the party's nominee, and Obama's likely cash edge, picking a good fundraiser -- like Crist or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney -- may be something close to a necessity.

A Populist Moderate

It's nearly impossible to find a Republican strategist who argues with the proposition that over the next four years the party must re-brand itself.

And, while they believe McCain is a step in the right direction, they also believe there is far more work to be done if the party wants to regain its footing anytime in the near future.

One of the easiest ways to begin that transition is for McCain to pick someone as a vice presidential runningmate whose profile is not the business-friendly, socially conservative image that reminds voters of the current president.

Crist fits that bill. While he is conservative enough not to be veep without angering the right (he is ostensibly pro-life on abortion although that designation has caused him problems in past campaigns), he is also strongly in the ideological middle on issues like the environment and many social issues (he favors civil unions and embryonic stem cell research).

Crist is also regularly described by those who have seen him on the campaign trail as a true populist -- a rare Republican (in the mold of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty) who is able to truly sell himself as a voice for the little guy across the state.

The combination of Crist's social moderate/fiscal conservative approach with his populist streak could play extremely well in states like Michigan and New Hampshire where voters tend to react well to that sort of messaging and profile.

One Day I Will Ask You For a Favor

There is no single politician in the country more responsible for McCain winning the Republican presidential nomination than Crist.

Crist was lavishly courted by McCain, Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani during the runup to Florida's Jan. 29 primary contest.

Just when it appeared that Crist would stay on the sidelines, he decided to step in and support McCain -- a move that came less than 72 hours before the polls in the state opened and drew wall-to-wall coverage for much of that time.

Despite being badly outspent by Romney statewide, McCain eked out a 36 percent to 31 percent win over the former governor (Giuliani placed a distant third with 15 percent), a win that was widely attributed to Crist putting his popularity and political machine on the line.

McCain's win in Florida gave him a huge burst of momentum heading into the mass of states that voted on Feb. 5 where his wins in California, Illinois and several other large states effectively ended the race -- knocking Romney out and making former governor Mike Huckabee's bid immediately quixotic.

Vice presidential picks are not typically based on the "you owe me" calculation, but if you are looking for intangibles to recommend someone, it's hard to ignore that Crist carries a trump card.

As always, this piece is meant to spark conversation, so feel free to agree, disagree, condemn or compliment in the comments section below. Tomorrow: The Case Against Crist.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 16, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Veepstakes  
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I am voting for Obama, the heterosexual, non-adulterer, non-gay, non-divorced, father-of-two family values candidate.

Posted by: marksquarepants | July 17, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that everyone talks about the Ultra Right wing, and mentions things that have nothing to do with the Ultra Right wing.

I am a Conservative; a libertarian-Republican. Going by studies from the CATO Institute, we make up somewhere between 13-20% of voters.

In the parlance of this blog, we are socially liberal and economically conservative.

We Floridian libertarian-Republicans despise Crist. No one cares if he is gay or not, we hate what he has done to the state. From socializing the Insurance industry, to pandering to the global warming priesthood, we don't like his policies on fundamental issues.

I don't think that Crist will give any boost at all to McCain in Florida with the Republican and Independent base: Most people I talk to here despise Crist just as much as they despise McCain, if not more so.

Posted by: Steve B, Lutz, FL | July 17, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm really disappointed. I suppose I shouldn't be; the mainstream isn't in the business of reporting; it's in the business of controlling the narrative. The narrative is that Charlie Crist isn't gay unless he says he is, even though everyone knows he is. It was the same narrative for Mark Foley. It is still the narrative for Larry Craig.

One would think that the media would have learned its lesson from the last two scandals. But reporters will be content, when the first Crist scandal is confirmed, to say that they just didn't have enough information to publish a story. Blah, blah, blah...

The only person the media is doing a favor for is Charlie Crist. Who cares if Charlie Crist likes men or women's dresses or Victoria Secret underwear. That really is his business. His deception, however, is my business. You can't trust anyone who hides such a fundamental part of his life. This isn't about sex; it's about ontology.

The fact that McCain is an adulterer isn't important because it involves sex; it's important because it involves character. Charlie Crist's charade calls his character into question.

Posted by: George Henson | July 17, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

If Crist becomes president, he would become our country's third gay, closeted President, after James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln.....

And if Crist has the courage to actually come out of the closet as a gay man, he would become our country's first out, proud, Gay president....

That would mean millions of gay/lesbian children could dream of one day becoming president of the United States....the lavendar ceiling would have been broken...

Posted by: wynhurston | July 17, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I guess if the gay Charlie Christ is willing to get into a phony marriage just for the nomination, I guess it's serious.

Posted by: RGB | July 17, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I must retract my prior comment: "I have no reason to doubt his sincerity" in getting engaged. As someone here mentioned, Andrew Sullivan, quoting a news paper, has suggested there *is* some reason to doubt his sincerity on this point:

Even if one thinks homosexuality to be a sin, it's no worse than the philandering and adultery of the heterosexuals running for office (cf. McCain's divorce and don't overlook Crist's fiancée's marriage not being over while they were together). Character does matter, but for me, there are plenty of other things militating against Crist that take him out of the running apart from alleged homosexuality (see my previous post).

Posted by: Metal | July 17, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The St. Petersburg Times reports that fiancee Carole Rome is president of Franco-American Novelty Co., New York-based wholesale distributor of Halloween costumes and accessories.

Looks like "famously frugal" Christ can now get fantastic drag outfits at deep discount wholesale prices!

Posted by: Galvetraz | July 17, 2008 6:15 AM | Report abuse

One thing is certain. They would make a great team, because both are pander experts. The only problem is they would not be good for the United States.

Posted by: Vgirl1 | July 17, 2008 12:32 AM | Report abuse

I don't care what his preference is. I care that he's a lousy governor and is ruining this wonderful state!!!! And he's talking about lowering property taxes another 25% next year. Great. Then cities and school boards can just shut down because there will be no money to do the things our citizens deserve! That's the bottom line with Crist. The rest is inconsequential!

Posted by: bigblue | July 16, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Crist deserves congratulations on his "marriage."

K. Chesney

Posted by: Mr LCraigKasich | July 16, 2008 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Crist and his fiancee have been seen together all over the state in the last 9 has been widely the extent it is news...which it really isn' obviously are obessessed with people that are in the closet...sorry to break the news that Crist does not fit in to that category.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Great, going from Crist to Fiorina, because Crist might be gay.

As somebody mentioned the Case Against Crist is going to be a real treat tomorrow.

Will Freedom's Watch readers be given a heads-up to blog here?

Posted by: Paper VP's | July 16, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Nasty stuff here. People seem to enjoy it, so we won't likely see a Chris candidacy.

Posted by: frodot | July 16, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Geez, testy, aren't we?? I like your idea that just because he was married (for 3 days, mind you!) that automatically makes him not gay. Helloooooo! Doesn't prove a thing. And where has this woman been for the last 9 months to a year that he's been dating? If you're in public office it's next to impossible to have this long a relationship without the media pouncing on it. They feed on this stuff. And I happen to know two gays who have fathered children so what does that prove? Also, maybe the reason nothing showed up on the radar screen when he was in all those other offices in Florida was because he wasn't seeing anybody then. And again, does anything that Crist has done that was good offset the havoc he's wreaking in the state of Florida? And, by the way, I still say I don't care if he's gay. Not my judgement call. But he's obviously not proud of the fact if he is!

Posted by: bigblue | July 16, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Please...the dude is not gay. He is divorced (as is half of America). The same idiots who make these claims ALSO say he fathered a child. There is absolutely no truth to these claims...Crist has in fact been "vetted" having been through four statewide campaigns without the slightest hint that this stuff is true...And by the way, he happens to be engaged to be married to a very attractive woman. So you idiots can continue to try and manufacture this issue....there is no truth to it. As for his accomplishments, of course you don't want to acknowledge just keep on drooling all over yourself....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I think I should say something about my previous post in acknowledging that Crist is probably gay. I have to say I don't care if he is. I have a lot of gay friends who are some of the most wonderful people I've ever met. If what they're doing is wrong, God will judge them, not me!! I was raised not to judge others. But what I have a problem with is the fact that Crist is so deep in the closet about it. He needs to come clean with all of us. After all, he's supposed to be honest and above-board. Not showing that very well.

And to the person who said he's done such great things - let me tell you, this huge tax cut he gave to the people of Florida is going to be the demise of many small cities, some counties will suffer greatly, and our schools will tank even more than they already are. Well, gee, Charlie, but thanks because I now have about $1.50 a month more to work with. What a stupid tradeoff. He's a disaster and as people see what's happening to their cities and schools, his ratings are going to drop like a rock - which is what he said would happen to our insurance rates but that didn't happen. Did you bother to read the rest of my comment? What about it did you think was a good thing that Charlie's done?

Posted by: bigblue | July 16, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Both Romney and Crist will make McShame look old. The smart move would be to pick Charlton Heston. He'd also help with the NRA crowd.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

In this day of the Swift Boat style campaign mud-slinging, I cannot envision John McCain choosing Charlie Crist who's personal life transcends atypical to the level of eerily weird. After all, this is a man almost 52 years of age who still lives a large portion of the time in his old bedroom at his parents Snell Isle home in St. Petersburg, a man who has never owned a home himself or had a heterosexual relationship over a few months other than when it's politically expedient. That is an election target to salivate over!

If a VP candidate were chosen simply on an image, than Charlie Crist is your man. He is the stereotype of "Mr. Florida," eternally tan and slim thanks to a daily diet that consists of a single meal often little more than soup and crackers. He is listed at 6'1" and 165lbs although those who have met him insist it is closer to 5' 11" and 150 lbs soaking wet. That might actually work to Christ's advantage because septuagenarian John McCain has not seen his listed 5'9" for decades; towering over your Presidential candidate does not make for a good campaign visual.

However, at the end of the day I believe the wisdom of the Republican party will choose Dudley Do-Right (Mitt Romney) over "The Green Iguana."

Posted by: Tampa Bay | July 16, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Crist is a joke. He has been a career lawyer, and a government puke his whole life. The people of Florida hate him, and will not re-elect him. What he did to promote John McCain was pathetic. A non-family man with all these years to have gotten engaged...come on now! Engaged is not married. It's all show!

Romney is the only choice. He was gyped out of becoming president by a sandwich job by McCain and Shucklephony. One on one he would have trounced either of them. He has a real law degree and MBA from Harvard, Cum Laude, and built Bain Capital to a $78 Billion dollar company from scratch. That's the kind of back-up quarterback we need for VP!

McCain will lose more votes from a Crist VP than he will to Obama!

Posted by: Dave Viger, Vegas | July 16, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Some day liability will be attached to blog entries and most of the garbage on this thread will come to an end.
Now that is the funniest thing I've read all day.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

And for Crist, if his engagement can survive a Presidential campaign, she really is the one.

Posted by: muD | July 16, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

if you want to know what floridians think of their governor and this ludicrous notion of him being vp, go to the buzz blog of the st. pete times that hilights this story. you want him dc? he's all yours!

Posted by: takehim,please | July 16, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Some day liability will be attached to blog entries and most of the garbage on this thread will come to an end.

How about an honest analysis of Crist rather than the unfounded and irrelevant personal attacks? It is always entertaining when the lunatic fringe hits the blogs...

Here are a few facts BESIDES the glaring fact that Crist is the most popular Governor in the country. During his two years as Governor he orchestrated the largest tax cut in the state's history, he vetoed more pork barrell spending than any Governor in the State's history, he developed a market-based health insurance program that will virtually eliminate the uninsured problem at no cost to the taxpayers, he has spreaheaded a 21st Century energy policy that will take us down the road of renewable energy and eliminate our dependence on foreign oil...I could go on...the point is...there is a reason that his approval ratings have consistently been in the 60-70% range...

I have no idea if he will get the VP nod, but I do know that he brings more to the table for McCain than anyone else..most importantly...he is the one running mate that give McCain the best shot of winning in November...if you don't win...this whole exercise is a waste of time.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Florida's housing market and economy are crumbling, tax revenues are plunging and growth is stagnating or declining in many metro areas. One big hurricane would bankrupt the state. By November, Charlie's positive numbers will rank right up there with W's.
Throw in personal issues and there is way too much downside to this pick. Chris obviously needs to get out more.

Posted by: It's the economy | July 16, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I'd just like to say that all these rumors about Crist's sexuality are just as vile as the ones being spread about Obama being a Muslim.

Posted by: Mike | July 16, 2008 1:04 PM
It is clear to anyone who can read or has half a brain that Obama is not a Muslim, the same can not be said for Crist, Graham and our toe tapper Larry Craig.

What is vile is the GOP using gays to win elections.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I'd just like to say that all these rumors about Crist's sexuality are just as vile as the ones being spread about Obama being a Muslim.

Posted by: Mike | July 16, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The only thing Fiorina has expertise in is outsourcing American jobs and failing at Hewlett Packard.

Posted by: Sammy | July 16, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

You can pretty much put the rumor to bed about Crist, it is easily confirmed. If Mccain picked him, guys would be coming out of the wood work selling their stories to the tabloids. What a disgrace and embarrassment it would be. I use to own a gay bar in South Florida. You would be surprised how many married men are either gay, bi, or just want to experiment for some reason. I had cops, politicians executives you name it who came in. It was all very discrete and few lived close. Most would rent cars so no one got a license number and would travel a hundred miles or more to lessen the odds of being seen. I am not gay but had a failing disco and had the switch to a gay bar suggested to me and I tried it with great success. It was certainly an eye opening experience though getting a first hand inside view into that culture.

Posted by: zzzzzzzzzz | July 16, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I am currently leaning to Fiorina as VP. Our economy needs expertise on the GOP ticket. (The dems do not, as yet, have an edge on this issue, only vague comments).

If Crist is rumored to be gay, the GOP, or
neither party for that matter, could afford the media fallout.

Posted by: br1500 | July 16, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

To Crist, It doesn't matter if you are pitching or catching you are still playing ball. The girlfriend is just a good front. McSame is a looser so he should pick you.

Posted by: Buckeye | July 16, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I live in Florida and hope that McCain picks Crist. That way I can be sure the state will go to Obama!!! Charlie Crist is an absolute disaster. His ratings may be high now, but by the time November rolls around, they'll be in the toilet. He pushed for Amendment I and got a bunch of idiotic Floridians to vote for it. This amendment cut property taxes in the state (we don't have a state income tax) and it has devastated cities, counties and our school system with huge cuts across the state. We're in deep trouble. Our state is number 50 (that's out of 50, folks!!!) in funds spent per student. This will dessimate our schools even further. Cities are having to lay off people, cut back on cops, fire service, and valuable programs. Charlie went so far as to go to NY where Donald Trump held a $1 million fundraiser for him so he could use the money to put ads on TV for this amendment. He ran on a campaign of doing something about our insurance rates. So far, everyone has seen their rates go up! And we have a state insurance plan and I can tell you our state should NOT be involved in insurance. Anyway, most of the people living on the coast have this insurance since they can't get any other insurance. If we have a major hurricane, there's not enough money to pay all these peoples' claims and OUR RATES on our individual policies will go up to cover the state's loss. Talk about stupidity! Charlie now wants offshore drilling. Well, isn't that nice? Problem is, even if they started drilling tomorrow which is totally impossible, we wouldn't see that oil doing any good for a decade, folks. So it has nothing to do with $4 gas. It's a political ploy. And the whole engagement thing is a total sham. He says he's been seeing her for 9 or 10 months. Gee, he sure kept her well hidden! And by several reliable sources, it is strongly suggested that he's gay. So he's really pulling out the stops to get this VP position. We all figure it's because he wants to be out of the state before the you-know-what hits the fan with all his stupid ideas! Like I said, the best thing for Obama would be if McCain picked Crist! Of course, the potential of Charlie being President is almost as scary what we have in there now!!!!

Posted by: bigblue | July 16, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm not gay, I just have sex with other men.

Posted by: Charlie Christ | July 16, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

George Voinovich would do only one thing, make McOld look not so old. He turned 72 yesterday, McGrumpy turns 72 in August.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I not gay, only my partners are.

Posted by: Charlie Crist | July 16, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: mcslingshot | July 16, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Well one thing you can say about Crist -- the man's got spunk. Lots of spunk.

Unfortunately, it's the wrong kind of spunk.

Posted by: Spectator2 | July 16, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I cannot get over the many variations of mcnames being posted. It has turned into a carnival game, but I have to admit it is funny, in a silly kind of way.


Posted by: Mclovin | July 16, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Well, with his white hair he doesn't make McCain look quite so old as, say, Bobby Jindal does. And choosing him cements the new regional nature of the GOP, with an Arizonan and a Floridian on the ticket. And Crist's new pro-offshore drilling policy must please some Floridians who don't value their pristine shoreline.

And picking Charlie sure makes McCain look like a "maverick" -- choosing a guy whose last-minute support put him over the top in a key state he needed to win the nomination. Nothing old-school politician there! And he'll have a lovely family for the GOP convention~!

That's all I got. Looking forward to tomorrow's Fix, though.... the case AGAINST.

Posted by: TeddySanFran | July 16, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

The state of Florida is in a mess. Read the current Time magazine article that referes to Florida as the state with water crisis, mortgage fraud, political dysfunction, algae polluted beaches, declining crops, failing public schools, and foreclosures. What has Charlie Crist done to help correct these problems? Right now, the country's fourth largest public school system is falling apart in Miami Dade County. Charlie Crist is simply incompetent.

Posted by: truth1 | July 16, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

SnObama should pick Dodd as his VP. They have a lot in common...both got sweetheart mortgage deals while the rest of us got screwed!

Posted by: SnObama Rocks! | July 16, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Andrew Sullivan's comment - WOW (but that is ok with me).

George Voinovich would be a great pick. He has more executive experience of any presidential candidates in either party (including primaries). More than that, he has more SUCCESSFUL executive experience than anyone in the Senate (fixing Cleveland, fixing OHIO). Still lives in the same Catholic neighborhood in Cleveland; wins something like 70% of the vote in OHIO (where McCain MUST win, and he is dragging in the polls). Downside is that he is not "young".

But I have to agree with the above comment - I wouldn't be surprised if McCain picks Lindsy Graham.

Great post as always, Chris.


Posted by: Mike T. | July 16, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Crist has serious problems--Flip floping on drilling--his voting record--contining Jeb's failed policies and the most important one--he is reprtly -gay-skip the fact of his engagenent-its only for the politics--He'll never marry or it will be almulled.Don't forget education--he promised added funding but he slached their budget, Florida ranks as the lowest in the nation

Posted by: Irwin | July 16, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Scott - yet poll after poll shows Crist with approval ratings over 60%. You are a moron.

Posted by: FloridaRez | July 16, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Looks like McSame is going to have a hard time finding a Republican man who isn't gay or [another] adulterer.

Posted by: John C | July 16, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

'Michelle Shaniqua Obama is a race baiter and an affirmative action wannabe. She likes to think of herself as the next Jackie Kennedy. However, she lacks the poise, grace, and good breeding to carry that off.'

'breeding, Dainne?' -- ironic you should use that term, you racist piece of trailer trash.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I live in Florida and I find it fascinating how so many of the national media have it completely wrong on Gov. Crist. He is not a popular governor, he is not trusted by conservatives or liberals. His biggest accomplishemnt is signing a casino deal with the Seminoles that both Republicans and Democrats don't like. He added more Vegas gambling and for cheap. The guy has done nothing to help Floridians with high homeowners insurance. Governor Crist is a disaster and to top it off there have been rumors for years that he is gay. His recent engagement is a staged for TV event. If McCain picks Crist, it helps Obama. One can only hope he does pick him.

Posted by: Scott | July 16, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Poor Cilizza. Would you want his job? All this suppressed laughter is bad for the bladder.
Of course, we just passed a silly season where that moral paragon Giuliani raised millions from thousands of unfortunates, in an unsuccessful effort to get us to take him seriously as presidential timber.
So why not O.J. Simpson while we're at it? He promises to never do it again.

Posted by: JDal | July 16, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Enough. Crist ain't gonna be picked. It'll come from one of McCain's best buds.

I bet Lindsay Graham.

Posted by: steve boyington | July 16, 2008 11:39 AM

Great choice, another 'single' man in his 50's.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Tomorrow: The Case Against Crist.
Well Chris all you have to do is cut and paste all the comments today for tomorrows blog.

Posted by: Patrick NYC | July 16, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Enough. Crist ain't gonna be picked. It'll come from one of McCain's best buds.

I bet Lindsay Graham.

Posted by: steve boyington | July 16, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Andrew Sullivan, gay and republican:

It's funny to watch the partisan right out-do each other to declare Obama a cynic while Charlie Crist gets engaged to a woman at the height of McCain's veep search. For the record, from the Broward-Palm Beach New Times:

"The rumors about Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and the Green Iguana just wouldn't go away. The story goes that the Florida governor frequented the Green Iguana, a bar in Tampa, back in the early 1990s when he was just starting his political career. He was less careful back then, people say, and during his partying at the Green Iguana, he was openly gay.

When I got Rick Calderoni, the bar's well-known owner, on the phone, I expected him to stonewall me about it.
He didn't.

Calderoni, who is gay, confirmed that Crist came into his bar quite often and that the two of them became friends.
Getting to the point, I asked him if he knew Crist to be gay.

"Yes," he answered bluntly. "I just wish he would come out and admit it. That would be a great thing if he did."

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, Chris. A closeted gay is exactly what McCain needs to shore up his conservative base.

Speak about a pink elephant in the room...

Posted by: Jeremy | July 16, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

It would be a great day to have a black man running for president and a gay man as a VP pick on the other.

But closet cases don't count. And there's no chance McCain is going to pick a gay man, even if he is closeted, to be his VP.

He has enough problems with the base.

Posted by: Ken in Balto | July 16, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Crist's pending marriage of convenience doesn't change the fact that he's gay.

The GOP base will go nuts if he's nominated.


Let's not ignore the elephant in the room.

Posted by: Brittman1 | July 16, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

i am a Republican for Obama

but unless Crist is gay or has something a non-Floridian doesn't know about

this is your guy.

You need Florida or it's over for McCain

he is a good surrogate and the Florida primary democrat debacle was his doing.

If you don't pick this guy and you loose Florida well wow!!

Posted by: MichaelTempler | July 16, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

If Crist is not free McStupid can always hit up another of Florida's best, Mark Foley.

Or over in LA Sen Vitter, whose wife gave us this beauty Wendy Vitter, commenting on the Clinton scandal, said, "I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he [Vitter] does something like that, I'm walking away with one thing, and it's not alimony, trust me," referring to the incident of Lorena Bobbitt severing the penis of her husband and to Clinton's wife, Hillary Clinton.

Let's not forget our toe tapper Larry Craig.

Posted by: Patrick NYC | July 16, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Chris, what on earth have you been smoking?

You need to read a column by Frank Mickadeit, a columnist for the Orange County (CA) Register, after Crist gave a "keynote" address to the Orange County GOP last month. It sums up Crist in a nutshell. Here it is, in part...

"Crist. Oy. Brought in as the keynote speaker because he's on the short list of potential McCain running mates, his performance Friday night truly did help his party. By showing unequivocally he would be a complete disasterfor the GOP - the worst running mate since Dan Quayle.

Mr. Crist looks great: - silver hair, ragged shirt, baggy pa-- ... wait, that's Mr. Bojangles; let's try again: silver hair, warm smile, great tan, perfectly tailored suit of clothes, decent teeth. It's when he uses his facial musculature to try and form cogent sound that he falls apart.

His speech began at 7:38 p.m. and was over at 7:47 p.m. - at nine minutes the shortest Flag Day Dinner speech on record....But into that nine minutes, he packed two major gaffes and one cliché-ridden anecdote, a nice trifecta. First, he displayed his knowledge of history by informing us that Ronald Reagan "came from right here in Orange County, California." (Sorry, Charlie, that was that other Republican president. Orange County was simply where Reagan's ATM was located.)

Then, again seeking to, uh, connect, with the O.C. Republican establishment, he managed to invoke one of the most reviled names in Orange County: "Your governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is doing a great job! ... I love him!"

Thud. The groans in the room were audible ... audible!!!"

Enough said.

Posted by: deep_throat | July 16, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Laughable at best. Crist's popularity is overrated and people here in Florida are finally starting to realize. He still has some fooled but that's changing. Some simple research into what he has actually accomplished since becoming governor will clear it up for you. The man is a sham and a fake. His attempt to look intelligent and thoughtful and caring makes a lot of us want to puke. McCain doesn't need him to win Florida or any other state. Obama is screwing up enough things on his own to change the outlook of the election in November. Charlie Crist will never make it through a vetting process. Between the sham proposal to someone who was married for the majority of the time that they were 'seeing' each other, to his bachelor status through 51 years of life. Oh right, I forgot about his marriage 30 years ago that lasted less than a year. Simple research on him and his lifestyle and who actually did the work for him in his various positions will clear up any possible misconceptions. The man is an idiot. But if it will get him out of Florida, take him, please.

Posted by: Debbie | July 16, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

So, once again the Fizzle Chris WAPO Obama
Shill is out trying to play head games about who Sen John McCain should name for
his Vice President. And so,Mr Fizzle names
anyone then you can count on McCain doing
a just say NO.

Posted by: Sherry Kay | July 16, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

As usual, Cillizza doesn't know his subject and refuses to do any investigating. To start with, Crist has only been Governor for 18 months. As a long time Floridian I can tell you Crist is no moderate. As a state senator he earned the nick name "Chain Gang Charlie" for his sponsorship of a bill to bring back chain gangs. The state is in serious trouble thanks to Jeb and Charlie's penchant for cutting taxes for the wealthy. School funding has been savagely cut, to the tune of $150 per student. The state rates 50th in high school graduates. The University of Florida has essentially stopped summer classes and is being forced to cut 4000 students from its rolls over the next 4 years. State employees have received no pay raises in 2 years. Of course Crist flipped on offshore drilling and he can find money to buy out US Sugar. Time magazine has a good article about Florida and its economic mess. Cillizza is typical of American journalism. Awful.

Posted by: Docbox | July 16, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I think the Ohio Whig is on to something with Voinovich... But my sentimental favorite for VP is Larry Craig.

Posted by: MN airport cop | July 16, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

oh please, McDoofus, please pick a closeted gay with a fake marriage.

Posted by: Spectator2 | July 16, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

The Fix writes
"Regardless of whether you believe Florida is a genuine toss-up or a leaning Republican state, adding Crist to the ticket helps... If the state already leans toward McCain, then naming Crist would put it away before Labor Day"

I still question the validity of this claim. That voters in FL (or any other state, like MN or VA) will vote for a President because he picked their governor as vice-president, is questionable, debateable & approaching implausible. It smacks of 'conventional wisdom' and leans toward lazy analysis, in my opinion.

Posted by: bsimon | July 16, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The fact that the head of the Log Cabin Republicans is defending McShame's saying that gays are not fit choices to adopt children is enough to show how self hating they are.

The old line from them back in the 80's was 'there is more than one issue', meaning that money came before gay rights or AIDS issues. Well there are so many issues that the GOP is wrong on, no matter, they will vote with their wallets.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse


So there you have it, in Chris Cillizza's Fixed bubble of a world, heterosexuality and marriage apparently are prerequisites to being Vice President. Chris, dear, you don't have to be queer to spot a S-H-A-M marriage.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Crist is a good pick to mollify part of the GOP base - the Log Cabin Republicans.

Posted by: bondjedi | July 16, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

To hearken back to a post about energy issues, here's why no new refineries are being built -- no one wants them:

"ELK POINT, South Dakota (CNN) -- Farmland stretches as far as the eye can see -- row upon row of corn stalks waving in the breeze. It's an unlikely place to watch America debate its energy crisis but a battle is raging in this corner of South Dakota over what could be the nation's first new oil refinery in 30 years.

Plans were kept secret for months but residents of Union County have now voted in favor of rezoning land for a $10-billion refinery capable of converting 400,000 barrels of Canadian oil into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel every day.

But while the county as a whole favored the project by a 58 percent majority on June 3, most of the rural voters whose land would be affected by the refinery said no.

"I'll keep fighting it," said farmer Dale Harkness, whose front yard could one day face the refinery, which would also need a pipeline to be built.

He and his wife, Carol, vow to fight in the courts to prevent a project they say is speculative at best, and at worst will pollute the land, creeks and skies of this tiny town for generations to come.

"They will never build here. 150 years from now someone will be enjoying that land and this land," Harkness said, pointing to the property around him. "

I would imagine quite a few of these farmers are republicans. It isn't a partisan issue, but rather a NIMBY.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

What about George Voinovich of Ohio? Former mayor of Cleveland, governor of Ohio and current senator. Known as a tough fiscal conservative, doesn't garner the ire of the evangelicals but also can cater to the Hillary Clinton "working class." He strikes me as having much less baggage than Crist.
Modern Whig Party -- for the rest of us

Posted by: Ohio Whig | July 16, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I don't know whether Crist is gay or not, but if you google him, everybody else in the world does.

The fiancee is a lot like Cindy McCain. Young, attractive heiress to a big family fortune -- and was married 9 months ago when Crist met her...

Posted by: Sandra | July 16, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Engaged???? He's GAY for crying out loud! If she isnt a beard no one is.....

Posted by: pj451 | July 16, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

As a Florida moderate (registered Republican, but not hard-core), I find the hype over Crist a bit much.

Crist is rather untested and seems too much like a crony, having bounced around between lesser and rather unrelated political jobs -- FL Senate (6 years), horribly failed bid for US Senate, appointment as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (2 years), special election to Education Commissioner of Florida (a position that was already slated for elimination by constitutional amendment shortly thereafter), elected as State Attorney General (four years), and in 2006 elected as governor.

He doesn't have a lot of executive experience since he hasn't even finished his first term as gov, and I'd suggest that most people don't want to give the launch codes to someone who is a relative unknown. (Obama was also an unknown, and some think his relative inexperience may yet hurt him.)

Add to that his recent flip-flop on off-shore drilling and the fact that his marriage at this moment in history seems a bit too politically expedient for many (I have no reason to doubt his sincerity, but as you can see from the other comments here, plenty of others are willing to open their mouths in speculation of the true reason for his heretofore bachelorhood), and you have some things to give pause.

Even so, he *might* help deliver Florida, which could be crucial if conservatives don't stay home in November. However, as a person on the street, I don't feel like he has a high degree of visibility for doing much in Florida (save his recent stumping for McCain, flip-flop on drilling, and marriage). Most people, even those interested in national politics, are ignorant of his doings. So my impression is that his "popularity" is over-rated as a benefit for McCain.

The sad thing is that Jeb Bush will never get a chance for obvious reasons. He has all the charms of Crist and more -- he's conservative, popular, a former governor of FL (out by term limits, not a loss), youngish and handsome, speaks Spanish, etc. He was governor when all the hurricanes hit, and he helped us through. His popularity here would not be over-rated for McCain, but unfortunately, it would be over-shadowed by his surname.

Also, the Fix's parenthesis that "Florida is the fourth largest state in terms of giving to the presidential candidates in this election; it trails California, New York and Texas" is rather unremarkable to me since those are also the only states more populous than Florida. The broader point that Crist might be able help McCain tap this resource is well taken, however.

Posted by: Metal | July 16, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

But is he conservative enough???

McCain already has problems with the GOP base and surely needs a Huckabee type figure to make sure the legions of evangelicals head to the polls. With the Dems as fired up as they are and Obama's all powerful ground game sure to make a real difference McCain simply can not afford to loose the turnout war.

One only has to read the "old queen" comment below to realise the republican base are not gonna be happy with anyone but a bible thumper with a smiling mega-permed wife and a legion of telegenic kiddies.

Posted by: Neilfromacrossthepond | July 16, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse


Your analysis is so spot on, that's probably reason enough for the ultra-right to begin an "anti-Crist" movement. That, and the prospect of having a mikva installed in the White House.

But yes, it would be a formidable ticket. As the wise poster "stickedy" said here the other day, all McCain has to do to win is to remind voters that 1) he's not Bush; and 2) Barack is too inexperienced to be president.

If McCain picks Crist soon, I'd expect the "put Hillary back into play" chatter would intensify among the Dem supers, who would immediately realize the potency of a McCain-Crist pairing. Yesterday's story in Politico about displeasure with Obama among House Dems was yet another clue that Hillary can't be written out of the main Denver plot line.


Posted by: scrivener | July 16, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

One of Crist's backers was real estate mogul Donald Trump, whose guests at a Crist fundraiser included a former Ukrainian official in the country illegally, as well as the owner of a company under investigation by Crist's office. Crist later returned the donations from the companies under investigation, while the Ukrainian official's fee was paid by another guest. Further controversy set in, however, when ethics complaints were filed against Crist and his chief of staff for failing to investigate a major donor, personnel firm Convergys, that has been plagued by lawsuits and prison sentences for its role in the inadequate protection of state employees' social security numbers.
The Rev. O'Neal Dozier, a member of Crist's team and the Worldwide Christian Church, also generated controversy after being dismissed from his position on the Broward Judicial Nominating Commission for calling Islam a "cult" and a "dangerous religion", and opposing the construction of a mosque on the grounds that "we don't want our area to be a breeding ground for terrorists". When questioned about Dozier, Crist initially declined to take action on Dozier and said that he was "happy" with the help he got. However, Crist later told his staff to remove Dozier from all campaign committees, saying "While Charlie Crist respects Rev. Dozier's right to express his political and religious beliefs, he does not agree with Rev. Dozier's statements and writings concerning Islam

Posted by: fla voter | July 16, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

A well reasoned analysis. This all comes down to electoral politics, and more specifically to Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. If Crist takes Florida off the map...McCain can virtually live in Ohio and Michigan until November. In addition, Pennsylvania is the birthplace of Crist...don't discount his ability to make a difference there. The electoral math teamed with Crist's ability to raise money and campaign 24/7 makes him a very viable choice. Most of his "negatives" are either typical political muckraking or ill informed opinion. As an example, it has been said Crist lacks experience. However, he has not only served as Governor of the 4th largest state (with the 8th largest economy in the Western Hemisphere), he has served as Florida's Attorney General, as Commissioner of Education, as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and served in the State Senate. McCain-Crist is the best hope for Republicans in '08. No one else in the "VP Field" can take one of the four crucial swing states off the map.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Crist took one note from the Mccain playbook for life. The new wife to be is rich and made around 2 million last year.

Patrick and aleks picked up on an error that has, as I write this, not yet been corrected.

I followed your link to the news of the wedding and learned that the bride is Jewish - another "Jew for Crist"?

Could not resist, sorry.

Crist's support for McC and his popularity in FL and his moderate positions are huge plusses, the last b/c McC's recent moves to the right have potentially hurt him with the center. Your take on the negatives for Crist will be interesting, since the only well known negative is Crist's "bachelorness".

Posted by: MarkInAustin | July 16, 2008 8:01 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

pity his "lifestyle" violates the gop platform...

Posted by: phoebus | July 16, 2008 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Patrick and aleks picked up on an error that has, as I write this, not yet been corrected.

I followed your link to the news of the wedding and learned that the bride is Jewish - another "Jew for Crist"?

Could not resist, sorry.

Crist's support for McC and his popularity in FL and his moderate positions are huge plusses, the last b/c McC's recent moves to the right have potentially hurt him with the center. Your take on the negatives for Crist will be interesting, since the only well known negative is Crist's "bachelorness".

Posted by: MarkInAustin | July 16, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Crist has certainly bent over backwards to get the VP nod, or should I say forward. The old queen is even getting married to get the part. But unless Mccain is prepared for possable "Larry Craig"
type headlines he better stay far away from Crist.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 7:57 AM | Report abuse

"Today we make the case for McCain to pick Obama."

I think the Onion already made the case against the Nightmare Ticket.

Posted by: aleks | July 16, 2008 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Today we make the case for McCain to pick Obama.
Chris have you been partying all night?

Since I take it you meant Crist, I'll once again say that I hope he does. There are enough guys out there who will come forward with dirt on him.

Posted by: patrick nyc | July 16, 2008 7:15 AM | Report abuse

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