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Please Don’t, Charlie

cristBy Neal B. Freeman, The American Spectator

I don’t mean to break the rhythm of Brother Thornberry’s magnificent rant on the American Spectator's site, but the GOP Senate race here in Florida has entered a new and volatile stage. Former Speaker of the House Marco Rubio has opened up a 30-point lead. The primary is more than five months away. Rubio’s opponent, Governor Charlie Crist, still has $8 million in the bank.

Thus the GOP problem. It would not be a shock to students of the human condition if the Governor, who once led this race by more than 40 points, were to crank up a retaliatory strike of biblical ferocity. Eight million dollars of negative ads would probably not be enough to nominate Crist, but it’s probably enough to take down Rubio. Heck, in a state with no mega-media market, $8 million could take down Desmond Tutu, driving him down in the polls to somewhere between Al Sharpton and Jeremiah Wright.

A few conservatives spent some time with the Governor this past week. Their message was simple: Please don’t, Charlie. Please don’t atomize a promising young Republican, who, if he emerges from this primary tested but unscathed, can hold the seat for the party and be a forceful voice for conservative change in Washington.

How did these supplicants do? We won’t know for a few weeks, but the early returns are not encouraging. The Governor’s Lincoln Day speech in Nassau County Friday evening was a classic case of Charlie being Charlie. (Nassau County, I should explain, has few loose ends, politically speaking. The GOP carried the county 72-28 for McCain-Palin in 2008. That was a big Democratic year. The GOP will do better next time. Together with its neighbor to the south, Duval, the two counties take biennial responsibility for overtaking the Democratic majority likely to materialize across the rest of the state.)

The Governor, a man of no fixed ideological address, gave the most rightwing speech this reporter has heard in several decades of full political immersion. Crist began steadily enough by paying tribute to his mentor, Connie Mack, and then to his favorite President, Ronald Reagan. Losing control of the vehicle, he then sped through the yellow light and professed his love for Sarah Palin, an attachment previously well disguised. He went on to pronounce himself the biggest tax cutter in history and characterize the philosophical gyroscope guiding his every move as: “less government, more freedom.” He then wrapped his argument to the skeptical jury by noting, with dramatic pause, that his name in its original Greek form means, “disciple of Christ.” To those of us even casually acquainted with his record, Charlie seemed to be claiming to have been born again. Again.

About the proximate question – the Senate race – the Governor skated around and around but came dangerously close to a patch of thin ice. He asserted that, when contemplating the Senate race, he could have done the easy and popular thing and run for re-election as Governor. If he had attempted this Nixonian trope in New York or Chicago, he might have faced a rousing chorus of “Do it! Do it! Do the easy and popular thing!” Here in gracious, Live Oak-framed Nassau County, there was only wistful silence.

 The problem, as many Republicans see it, is that Charlie has left himself no graceful way to back down from his ill-conceived Senate campaign. The race to succeed him as Governor is already in full swing, with the presumptive GOP candidate running competitively in the polls. The same goes for the attorney general slot, which Charlie himself once occupied under former Governor Jeb Bush. It’s a challenge for Charlie, to be sure, perhaps more theatrical than structural.  How does he get off stage?  The hope, threadbare as it may be, is that nothing in Charlie’s campaign will so become him as the leaving of it.


Neal B. Freeman writes from Jacksonville and can be reached at nealfreeman@blackwellcorp.com.

8 Responses »

  1. Rubio is nothing but another hack politician from the Miami machine, to pretend he is anything different is fooling yourselves.

  2. Behind every successful Republican man is another Republican man, and in Charlie's case, they're not there for politics.

    Marco Rubio, Marco Polo who cares? Charlie vs. Mario = Dumb vs. Dumber.

  3. Charlie is being the consumate politician and speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He has done
    some good things for Florida as govenor but is not a conservative but more moderate. I think he
    might have changed a few minds when he embraced Obama when he was here. I am of the opinion
    that a clean sweep in November is what it will take to make the politicians that we have had enough.

  4. Charlie should do what he has to do to get elected to the US Senate, MarcoRubio is a great republican with an
    overstated political ambition,he is not as prepared to be the kind of senator we need today as Charlie Crist is.
    Rubio's political record does not compare. Rubio and his effective campaign team still don't realize they
    are working for the Democratic party , KendrickMeek is already in congress with a certain political legacy from
    his mother, Rubio is no match for him. Our best candidate is Charlie Crist because he reaches accros the table
    and also governs for Democrats and Independents. Any other elected senator will only serve one party. Not all the people in Florida.

  5. I don't know what "Your Comment Is Awaiting Moderation " means. If it is a type of censorship, to a clean
    decent reply, let me know. I came from a Communist country, I can take it. As for now, it is your right to publish
    or not my comment , there is still a right to free speech .

    • "Your Comment Is Awaiting Moderation" is to filter out SPAM. Otherwise every comment section is filled with ads about increasing your manliness. Pretty standard nowadays.

  6. This is a funny story. A year ago, Gov Crist was a lock for the Republican's to keep this US Senate seat and a chance for contributors and grass root volunteers to put this campaign to bed and focus on getting other conservative republican's elected. However, the Rubio campaign then went nuclear on Gov Crist by misrepresenting his record, and trying to repackage Speaker Rubio as a conservative. Where were the "Please don't, Marco" stories/
    Gov Crist has not lied about Speaker Rubio. He is calling attention to the differences between his liberal/moderate legislative record and the media is on fire with all his massive spending sprees and reckless personal finances. One should feel pride when his record comes under scrutiny, he shouldn't try to run and hide. Why the fear about discussing the truth concerning this man's past? Hmmm...
    Rubio's numbers have already plummeted in a general election matchup with Meek, while Crist is still a lock. Voting for Rubio is as good as voting for Meek.

  7. Wow! Good ole Governor Charlie!! Whodda thunk! A born again conservative!! Got more sides to him than Kurt Waldheim (Last seen as the patriotic President of Austria, earlier the Secretary General of the UN and admirer of the "non-aligned" socialist nations, and earlier still, a loyal member of the Nazi Party!)
    Your sails are flappin in the breeze Charlie and you boat ain't goin anywhere!