Special Report

McCain Losing in Florida

Was this supposed to happen? Now Crist thinks he can be his savior.

By 5.5.08

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TAMPA-- A Quinnipiac poll taken April 23-29 shows John McCain losing to Mz Hillary by 49 to 41 in Florida and in a virtual tie with Barack Obama, trailing Saint Barack by 44 to 43 percent. These results represent a reversal of fortune for the old fighter jock. Most previous polls which have shown McCain ahead of both Democrats in the Sunshine state, which is usually reliably red.

The new poll is disturbing to Florida Republicans, but doubtless encouraging to Democrats and to Republican (sort of) Florida Governor Charlie Crist, who wants to be on the ticket with McCain about as much as any young boy ever wanted a new bicycle for Christmas. Perhaps encouraging as well to Clinton partisans who argue she is more electable than the increasingly flawed South Side saint.

Crist is popular with Floridians, though less so than a year ago, and with the Florida mainstream media. It's not hard to understand why Crist is one of the few Republicans the media like. He's taken consistently "moderate" (translation from the mediaspeak: liberal) positions on social and environmental issues. For example, he's as daft as any Democrat on global warming, wanting a very restrictive cap and trade system for carbon-based fuels that would warm the heart of any former Soviet commissar.

The conventional wisdom is that Crist would help McCain carry Florida, without which state McCain has little chance of winning in November. But Crist's political pull elsewhere would be limited, because he's at least as unappealing to the conservative Republican base McCain needs to win over as McCain himself is, and has far less gravitas. He's sort of a Dan Quayle without the maturity and seriousness. For long-time observers of Crist and Florida politics, imagining Charlie Crist in the Oval Office is a little like imagining an armadillo in a tuxedo. You guess it could be done, but what would be the point?

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About the Author

Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.