Florida Gov. Charlie Crist continues to walk an increasingly fine line in his Senate bid as an independent, making a few statements this weekend on CNN’s State of the Union that are sure to roil some of his Democratic supporters — and perhaps draw them to Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla.
After flirting with a pro-health care bill stance on Friday, Crist “clarified” his remarks on the Sunday show, saying he’d have voted against the bill in the Senate but, if elected, he’d “like the opportunity to help fix it.” Crist also voiced his solidarity with conservatives on gay marriage, reiterating his support of a constitutional ban. The Meek campaign is seizing upon both of his stances as a means of drawing away support from key Democratic interest groups.
At the same time, however, Crist didn’t waver in his defense of the Obama Administrations’ economic stimulus package, arguing it hadn’t failed in Florida and that, without it, “instead of 200,000 [jobs lost], it would have been 300,000.”
Crist’s moderate stance on the stimulus makes sense. Unlike members of the House and Senate, as governor of Florida, he had a budget to balance and saw firsthand the salutary effects of the federal spending. It’s the issue that first created a major rift between him and the GOP last year, so he’s not about to run from it. It’s also one of the hottest buttons in this election cycle, with Republicans characterizing the stimulus as a slush fund that did nothing to help the economy.
With Crist running as an independent, it remains an open question which party he would caucus with if elected. Crist refused to address the issue, saying it’s “a moot question unless I win.”