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Tags: Charlie Crist

Why I’m Not Worried About Marco Rubio, Yet



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Lots of readers are looking at new polls in Florida and getting worried about Marco Rubio. I’m not, yet. I’d like to see Rubio leading, obviously, but a couple of things are jumping out at me in recent polling.

1. Democrats are wavering between Crist and Meek. Until April, Kendrick Meek was above 20 percent in a three-way matchup; since then, the bottom has fallen out; in the last four, he’s hit 15, 17, 15, and 14 percent.

This is an astonishingly low level for a major-party candidate in a competitive state. By contrast, Katherine Harris’s disaster of a Senate campaign won 38 percent in a two-way race, in a year when the words “Florida Republican” made people think of Mark Foley.

With one exception, when Meek is ahead of 20 percent, Rubio leads; when Meek is in the teens, Crist leads. 

I have a tough time believing that Meek will not A) win the Democratic primary against Jeff Greene and B) remain in the race until the end. Yes, Meek is barely ahead in the Democratic primary, and Greene is spending a bundle. If Greene manages to spend his way to the Democratic nomination, we’ll have to rethink this; if the Democrats, in a swing state, are represented by a real-estate billionaire who hangs with Heidi Fleiss and Mike Tyson, it is possible that the Democrat’s final percentage on Election Day will be in the neighborhood of Meek’s current puny total.

Presuming the race is Rubio vs. Crist vs. Meek, will most of Florida’s Democrats disagree with Pennsylvania’s Democrats, and vote for the guy who they were rooting against just four years ago? I think a decent number of “Crist Democrats” will come home to Meek.

2. Charlie Crist is likely to have serious cash-flow problems as the race heats up. He has built up money reserves for now, but Florida’s an expensive state to campaign in and Rubio has proven a shockingly successful fundraiserCrist is shut off from most of his national GOP donors. Right now, Charlie Crist dominates the news, because he’s just done something dramatic (leave his party) and every day he’s announcing some shocking about-face on issues, and ironically that’s helping him win the daily message fight.

3. Rally around the state flag: BP oil is starting to reach Florida, and Crist is doing gubernatorial things to protect his state. Instead of looking like a treacherous Oompa-loompa whose ravenous ambition devoured his principles long ago, he looks like the guy who’s trying to protect his state’s pretty wildlife and birds from the Blob.

This helps Crist at the moment, but we don’t know whether this halo effect will still be in place come November.

4. Nobody’s really attacked Crist yet: Remember the phrase, “7 definite flip-flops, 2 rhetorical shifts and 4 more where a switch seems inevitable.”

Beyond that, it’s July. If the numbers look like this in late September or October, we can start worrying.

UPDATE: A fifth point from a smart reader: “Sooner or later, he will have to declare whether he plans on voting for Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader.  That will move things.  Along those lines, he’ll have to take stands on the issues which will either disappoint Democrats or move Republican-leaners toward Rubio.”

Tags: Charlie Crist , Jeff Green , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio

Barack Obama Is Not Going to Save Kendrick Meek



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Boy, I can’t understand why the newsweeklies are having circulation problems. Time’s Michael Grunwald:

How Florida’s Forgotten Democrat Could Win the Senate Race

. . . That’s the kind of thing you’d expect a Democrat to say when he’s buried in third place, consistently polling below 20%. But it also happens to be true. Though Meek may look hopeless today, it’s still strange to watch the pundits count out a Democrat running against divided Republican opposition in a Democratic-leaning state; an Obama supporter running against two Obama foes in a state that supported Obama; and a consistent offshore drilling opponent running against a drill-baby-drill guy and a petroleum flip-flopper in a state with lovely white-sand beaches now threatened by the spill in the Gulf.

Check the calendar. The Obama who won Florida, who was a blank slate who could simultaneously appeal to the political cultures of Vermont and North Carolina, of California and Indiana, has been gone since summer 2009. Take a look at his approval-disapproval split in the state these days:

Grunwald continues:

Rubio and Crist are gifted politicians, but I don’t understand why a Florida Democrat with a mainstream voting record and solid fund-raising would get crushed by a tea-party ideologue and an all-over-the-map opportunist unless he were a truly awful candidate. 

“Mainstream voting record”? Meek’s lifetime ACU rating is 8 out of 100. In the House, he represented a district so heavily Democratic that he has never faced a Republican opponent. On his fundraising, Meek has spent $2.3 million already and he’s below 20 percent; I’m not so sure the remaining $3.7 million will be exponentially more effective.

I’m reminded of Newsweek’s October 30, 2009 article, “Why Corzine Will Probably Win in New Jersey.

Tags: Barack Obama , Charlie Crist , Kendick Meek , Marco Rubio

Jim Greer Arrested; Where Does the Shoe Drop in Florida?



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Breaking this morning: “Jim Greer, former head of the Republican Party of Florida, was arrested this morning, according to law enforcement officials. There was no immediate word on charges.” Federal authorities were reportedly investigating a lucrative contract Greer awarded himself and an associate while he was running the state GOP.

This is the Jim Greer often described as “Charlie Crist’s personal pick to head the Republican Party of Florida.” Not that the Crist campaign needed more bad news.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Jim Greer

Kendrick Meek Is Still Running, Right?



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Another poll puts Charlie Crist ahead in a three-way race for Senate from Florida, but I suspect Marco Rubio will catch up in this survey eventually, just as he caught up in Rasmussen’s. No, what’s jumping out at me now is the share that’s left for Democrat Kendrick Meek: 15 percent.

His share in the three preceding polls? 17 percent, 19 percent, and 18 percent. In this most recent poll, “the unaffiliated Crist is leading among Democratic voters, 38 percent to 33 percent.”

I tend to think some Florida Democrats will “come home” as the election approaches . . . Otherwise, this would be a strikingly bad performance for a major party in a swing state.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio

Charlie Crist Can’t Really Remember Why He Opposed Sotomayor



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Aspiring senator Charlie Crist knows he opposed Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court last year, and is pretty sure his opposition had something to do with the Second Amendment, but he can’t really recall anything specific right now:

He says he hasn’t encountered anything about the current nominee, Elena Kagan, that concerns him, which will probably come as a surprise to the more than 70,000 NRA convention attendees who wildly applauded criticism of the nominee from Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Elena Kagan

Turncoat Refuses to Endorse Traitor, Cites Disloyalty



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Floridians Digest the Idea of Independent Charlie Crist



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On May 5, Rasmussen gave us some results out of Florida that confounded the conventional wisdom: As an independent, Charlie Crist led the Senate race and seemed to be in healthy shape.

But today, Rasmussen finds Marco Rubio in the lead again, 39 percent to Crist’s 31 percent, with Democrat Kendrick Meek continuing to trail badly at 17 percent.

I think this suggests that we unhealthy political junkies process news at a different speed than normal, relatively apolitical voters. Many of us look at Crist’s departure from the GOP – often predicted in the preceding weeks, and often flatly denied by the candidate himself – as a self-immolating temper tantrum, a demonstration that hell hath no fury like an Oompa Loompa scorned. We may see his refusal to return donations from Republicans who feel betrayed as one step removed from theft. We may see Crist’s moves – from embracing Obama and the stimulus to trying to argue that he was the real fiscal conservative to suddenly doing the teachers’ unions’ bidding on a school-reform bill – as the unpredictable, zig-zagging political reckless driving of a lost and increasingly desperate tourist, whose Garmin refuses to reveal the path to an electoral majority.*

But I suspect a decent number of Floridians, who have already voted for Charlie Crist in quite a few elections before, heard that a familiar name was running as an independent and thought, “Oh, good! I like independence. Our system needs more independents.” It was only after a few weeks of digestion did they realize that this is still the same guy who’s underwhelming them as governor, who’s running on a platform of “I’ll be anything you want me to be as long as I get to win.”

* Why yes, I did have trouble getting to the airport this morning, why do you ask?

Tags: Charlie Crist , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio

Rubio vs. Crist on the Gun Issue



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Team Rubio makes the case for their man on the gun issue:

Beyond Marco’s lifetime A rating with the NRA, he was supportive of all NRA-sponsored bills during his term.  The background on the “guns at work” bill you mentioned as the source of discontent with the NRA (or more accurately, the NRA’s Florida head, Marion Hammer) is that, like previous years when it came up, it didn’t get passed during Marco’s first year as Speaker. It was a controversial bill that pitted pro-business against pro-2nd Amendment interests.  In Marco’s last year, he put his top lieutenants (future speakers in waiting) on point to negotiate, and they got it through after years of trying.

On the other hand, Crist’s NRA issues are more concrete – he appointed a liberal judge to the FL Supreme Court that the NRA explicitly opposed.  He also waffled on whether he would sign the “guns at work”bill, and later proposed raiding the concealed weapons fund before succumbing to pressure and vetoing his own proposal.  Below is a summary:

As Speaker, Rubio Supported The “Guns At Work” Bill, Which Passed The Florida House And Eventually Became Law

“The Florida House Wednesday passed the so-called guns-at-work bill by a 72-42 vote and sent it to the Senate. . . . The bill (HB 503), which allows concealed weapons permit holders to keep their guns locked in their cars at work and visitors who do not have such permits, was amended to exclude nuclear plants, and now goes to the Senate.”  (“House Passes ‘Guns At Work’ Bill,” St. Petersburg Times, 3/26/08)

Charlie Crist Was Initially Indecisive About Whether He Would Sign The Bill

“Senate passage is considered likely, but Gov. Charlie Crist has not said whether he will sign the bill, citing the tussle between gun rights and property rights. ‘I think there are some real competing issues with that piece of legislation,’ Crist said recently.”  (“House Passes ‘Guns At Work’ Bill,” St. Petersburg Times, 3/26/08)

Crist Eventually Signed The Bill Into Law

“Employers and business owners can no longer bar workers and shoppers from bringing guns onto their property and leaving the weapons locked inside their vehicles under a bill signed into law today by Gov. Charlie Crist.  The new law allows employees and visitors who have concealed weapons licenses to leave their weapons locked in or to vehicles. But concealed weapons license records are not available for public inspection so businesses would have no way of verifying if employees actually have the licenses.”  (“Crist Signs Bring Your Gun To Work Bill,” Palm Beach Post, 4/15/08)

Crist’s Original 2009 Budget Proposed Taking Money From A Concealed Weapons Permit Fee Trust Fund.  “Crist has often been in the NRA’s corner. Even when he didn’t know he wasn’t.  Case in point: Crist’s recommended budget for this year. It proposed taking $8 million from a trust fund dedicated to receiving concealed-weapon permit fees to help process CWPs. The Legislature knocked Crist’s recommendation down to $6 million.”  (“Marco Rubio’s Gun Problem,” Miami Herald, 11/16/09)

After Pressure From The NRA, Crist Vetoed His Own Proposal.  “Then the NRA made a stink, so Crist vetoed the trust fund sweep that he ultimately had proposed.  Hammer said that won’t be held against Crist because his budget was based on staff recommendations that he wasn’t fully aware of when he unveiled the spending plan. Once he learned of the implications of the trust fund sweep, Crist acted accordingly.”  (“Marco Rubio’s Gun Problem,” Miami Herald, 11/16/09)

Crist Has Gone Against NRA Priorities In His Appointments To The Florida Supreme Court And U.S. Senate.  “Crist did, however, buck the NRA when he chose Justice James Perry for the Florida Supreme Court. The NRA lobbied against him. The NRA also wanted Crist to pick Jim Smith to fill out the rest of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’s term, but Crist picked his former staff/campaign chief George LeMieux.”  (“Marco Rubio’s Gun Problem,” Miami Herald, 11/16/09)

Tags: Charlie Crist , Marco Rubio

What Will Mike Pence Say About Elena Kagan?



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Later today at the NRA convention, Rep. Mike Pence will address the attendees, and he is expected to talk about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. At first glance, it might seem surprising that a House member is talking about a potential justice, instead of one of the senators in attendance (Thune, Burr). But the senators probably need to appear open-minded on Kagan, while Pence can articulate all of the concern about her meager, and not promising, comments on the Second Amendment.

The NRA scored the vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor, meaning that it counted towards the organization’s annual “grades” of candidates and potential endorsements. Pence has already compared Kagan to Harriet Miers (and he didn’t mean it as a compliment), and if he really hits Kagan hard today before an audience of tens of thousands of NRA members, he may make it difficult for the NRA to not score the Kagan vote.

One other wrinkle? As I noted earlier this week, the Florida Senate race represents a unique headache for the NRA, since their longtime ally Charlie Crist has alienated many conservatives and Republicans but been solid on the gun issue. Meanwhile, while many conservatives enthusiasically back Marco Rubio, the NRA was underwhelmed with Rubio’s effort on a bill that gave employees the right to keep guns in their cars when they park in workplace lots. The NRA is “evaluating the race”, and on paper, they appeared set to be Charlie Crist’s last ally . . . except that the Florida governor just declared about Kagan, “I think she’d do a great job.”

Tags: Charlie Crist , Marco Rubio , Mike Pence , NRA Convention

Aim Carefully, Fellas



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Over on the home page, a look at some tough decisions the NRA will face in the near future. I’m attending their annual convention in Charlotte, so posting will be light for much of today as I endure the anything-can-go-wrong-at-any-time adventure that is domestic air travel.

Tags: Blue Dogs , Charlie Crist , Harry Reid , NRA

Cloudy Outlook for Democrats in the Sunshine State



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If, as the Wall Street Journal reports, the Obama White House is chatting with Charlie Crist, I wonder A) how expected Democratic senatorial nominee Kendrick Meek feels about it and B) how African-American turnout is if real-estate mogul Jeff Greene beats Meek for the Democratic nomination.

And, of course, how all that impacts the down-ticket races. Note that Republican Bill McCollum still looks pretty healthy in the governor’s race. On my list of 99, four of the vulnerable Democrats were in Florida:

Suzanne Kosmas, Florida: The space coast is getting slammed by Obama’s NASA cuts, it’s an R+4 district, and Kosmas voted for the health-care bill.

Allen Boyd, Florida: The eastern part of Florida’s panhandle isn’t usually Democratic country (both McCain and Bush won easily), and Allen Boyd is one of those classic “How the heck is this guy representing this district?” incumbents. Eleven Republicans considered running against him this year; nine remain in the race, and Steve Southerland, co-owner and president of a chain of funeral homes, appears to be the most well-funded. Southerland is hitting Boyd hard on votes that cost the district jobs.

Ron Klein, Florida: This is a D+1 district, but you probably don’t want to stand in the way of Republican challenger Allen West.

Alan Grayson, Florida: This obnoxious, loudmouth, partisan Democrat represents a somewhat Republican district. Grayson won only 52 percent of the vote in 2008, even with the Obama wave carrying him. Grayson has almost unlimited funds, but a small army of Republican candidates are setting out to defeat him; the two most likely include popular former state senator Daniel Webster and current state representative Kurt Kelly.

Tags: Barack Obama , Charlie Crist , Kendrick Meek

Charlie Crist Really Is Leading in Florida, Huh.



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Yesterday I wondered if a Rasmussen poll in Florida’s Senate race showing Charlie Crist leading with 38 percent, Marco Rubio at 34 percent, and Kendrick Meek at 17 percent could be somehow off-kilter.

Now Mason-Dixon, one of the pollsters I trust most, offers similar numbers: Crist 38, Rubio 32, Meek 19.

As a Rubio fan, this isn’t what I want to see. But I can’t help but wonder if there’s a valid comparison to the other prominent NRSC endorsee who left the party, Arlen Specter. Specter led his Democratic primary by a wide margin for quite a while, while Joe Sestak kept his powder dry. Then Sestak started running ads, voters started paying more attention as the primary approached, and then POOF! Specter’s lead – driven, I suspect, by higher name identification – was gone.

By the way, remember when Democrats thought the big winner in Crist’s departure would be Meek?

Tags: Charlie Crist , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio

Crist Ahead? Meek at 17? Scott Rasmussen, What Are You Telling Us?



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This result from Rasmussen surprises me on two levels:

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Florida Voters finds Crist earning 38% support to Republican Marco Rubio’s 34% and Democrat Kendrick Meek’s 17%.

One: Crist went up 16 percentage points from Rasmussen’s mid-March as an independent? Really? And Rubio lost 8 percentage points?

Two: Kendrick Meek is really only pulling 17 percent? He’s polled badly in the hypothetical three-way matchup before, but never this badly.

Put another way, Meek is only 17 points ahead of the Democrat running against South Dakota incumbent Republican John Thune. You know, State Senator Nobody from Nowhere who’s polling at zero.

We’ll have to see if other pollsters see what Rasmussen sees.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio

Does Obamacare Treat E.J. Dionne’s Incurable Optimism?



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In E. J. Dionne’s world last week, the financial-reform bill was going to put the Republicans on the defensive in November.

This week it’s the Arizona immigration bill and Charlie Crist’s departure from the party.

A little earlier, Dionne passed along a Democratic candidate’s prediction that “several more months of economic growth will improve the climate for Democrats.”

A little earlier, it was health care that was “an enormous achievement, and it alters the political terrain in ways that are favorable to Democrats. By creating new facts on the ground, health reform complicates the Republicans’ task.”

On April 1, it was optimism about Charlie Crist’s chances in the GOP primary:

Fortunately for Crist, the primary is not until Aug. 24. A race that has swung so far in one direction may yet have one more big swing in it. Crist sees the turn against him as the product of a very bad economy, the “disappointment and concern and fear” it has bred, and the fact that “some people speak to that fear.” If that fear abates even a bit in the coming months, it will be good for Barack Obama — and very good indeed for the sunny Charlie Crist.

For some reason, I suspect E. J. Dionne roots for the Chicago Cubs.

Tags: Charlie Crist , E. J. Dionne

How Joe Lieberman Differs From Charlie Crist



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This morning, David Axelrod is insisting that Crist’s departure proves that Republicans no longer have a big tent, and that the Florida governor was “run out” of the GOP.

Two words, sir: Parker Griffith.

Someone asked how Crist’s departure from his party compared to Lieberman’s in 2006. My first thought is that while there are similarities, Lieberman had a stronger case that the state as a whole liked him even if a slim majority of the primary voters didn’t; Joe-mentum won 48 percent in the primary and then went on to win 49.7 percent in a three-way race.

By contrast, Floridians are not clamoring for Charlie Crist to be their next senator, no matter how you slice the salami. Crist is averaging 28.9 percent in the GOP primary and 27.8 percent in a three-way race.

Another key difference: As far as I can tell, Joe Lieberman never pledged to not run as an independent, as Charlie Crist did a month ago on Fox News Sunday.

Tags: Charlie Crist , David Axelrod , Joe Lieberman

Greene May Spend a Lot of Green



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Ha-ha, Florida Democrats chuckle. “Look at those silly Republicans! Now they’ve got Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist splitting the non-Democratic vote! Our guy, Kendrick Meek, has a much clearer path!”

And now, Kendrick Meek has a billionaire primary competitor: Jeff Greene.

Ordinarily, a guy with no political experience, jumping in late, can be dismissed as a minor factor. Except Greene’s a billionaire.

Self-made.

Kendrick Meek’s day went south faster than Jack Bauer’s.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Jeff Greene , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio

Permit Me to Tweak Those Who Speak of Meek’s Peak



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Permit me to throw a bit of cold water on those who think Crist’s independent bid turns Democrat Kendrick Meek into the odds-on favorite: Here is a list of Meek’s percentage of the vote in six polls on this scenario since November: 31, 24, 27, 25, 24, 22. He has led none of them, he is in third place in four of them.

In other words, he needs to build on his current level of support. Crist’s independent bid splits the existing Republican vote, but there so far hasn’t been enough Meek backers to get him a win under either scenario.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Kendrick Meek , Marco Rubio

Charlie’s Tuna Is Cooked



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This Charlie Horse Can’t Win the Race

You’re going to get beat, Charlie, and I’m going to enjoy it. It didn’t have to be this way; you notice Mark Kirk got through a Republican primary without insisting that everyone in the GOP had become an extremist except him. Mike Castle’s probably going to get through his primary fine. It’s this ‘primary voters have to love me, if they don’t, it means the party been hijacked by radicals’ victim card that is so darn tiresome. You know what Jim Jeffords, Dede Scozzafava, Lincoln Chafee and Arlen Specter all have in common? By the time they switched parties/endorsed the other side, they were so politically weakened they would have a tough time outpolling Jesse James among women voters. Nobody switches parties when they’re a winner.

I’ve noted that I don’t agree often with Daniel Larison, but I’d offer some ‘amens’ to this: “No one has to agree with or even like Marco Rubio to appreciate the one service he has done for Florida, which is to expose how Crist’s desire for personal advancement trumps any and all other considerations. Whatever their reasons for the Republican rank-and-file’s rejection of Crist, there are few candidates more deserving of rejection than Crist because of the sheer opportunism that has marked his career and which he will continue to display this year.”

Red State’s Erick Erickson has earned the right to an ‘I Told You So’ or two: “Charlie Crist will not only run as an independent in Florida, but he has also reserved all of his air time in Florida through November, or as much as he can. Why? Because he knows the Club for Growth is going to do what they did to Specter — fund an effort to have Crist donors ask for their money back. Well, because Crist has spent it all on television advertising holds that he may or may not later use, he can say he has none to give back. Classy, Charlie.”

David Frum is dusting off Tony Kornheiser’s old Redskins bandwagon and is painting ‘Rubio 2010’ on the side: “Crist continues to lead the polls. I expect that lead to fade as Republicans rally to Rubio and independents question the grounds for Crist’s candidacy. I hope that translates into a Rubio win, but I worry that a Rubio candidacy will be a tougher and harder fight than a Crist candidacy would have been: I don’t share the view that the conservative voter belongs to Rubio’s hard-edged style of politics, especially not in a state like Florida. But all that is past helping. The GOP nomination race has a presumptive winner and Republicans of all stripes have a new standard-bearer.”

Yeah, Crist led some hypothetical three-way polls, but I suspect that his bold departure from the party, about a month and a half after he pretty explicitly promised he wouldn’t do that, is going to drag down his approval across the board. ‘Florida Independents for Duplicitous Turncoats’ just isn’t a big enough demographic to get Charlie to 34 percent.

Oh, and Drew M. at Ace of Spades would like a word with Frum and other past fans of Crist: “Why exactly should the right be taking advice from someone who thought Crist was a great choice, really the only choice? The guy has turned out to be a sore loser snake who may well be trying to cut a deal with the Obama White House to win this race. Some of us saw that early on and wanted nothing to do with the guy.  Exactly at what point to our ‘leaders’ have to answer for the fact that they are often wrong?”

On NRO today, I take a look at Crist’s many avoidable mistakes since declaring his Senate bid.

Tags: Charlie Crist , Marco Rubio

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