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Is Charlie Crist Getting the Ink He Wants?

September 2, 2012 - 6:00pm

Former Florida Governor and former Republican Charlie Crist says he has no plans to seek office in the future.

He told MSNBC last week he doesn't think he'll challenge Gov. Rick Scott in 2014 because he's "enjoying the private sector very much."

So if ink is all that the Morgan & Morgan attorney wants -- Crist's face adorns a growing number of billboards that have been springing up across the state, under the personal injury law firm's moniker -- he sure is getting it.

With the Republican National Convention in full bloom last week, everyone was talking about Crist's endorsement of President Obama and plans to speak at the Democratic National Convention.

Besides the vitriol and one-lined aspersions cast toward Crist by Republican Party leaders and officials last week, speculation over the impact of his Democratic stage crafting and possible future prospects is a huge hit on the Internet and in Florida and national newspapers.

The Sun-Sentinel editorial board wrote Sunday that Crist has so far been making all the right moves to stage a comeback to challenge, as a Democrat, Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

"If that is Crist's gamble, it might just pay off. Conservatives already distrust him, so his treachery won't lose him any votes. Teachers will never forget his courageous, or craven (depending on your point of view) veto of a merit-pay bill passed by the Republican Legislature a few years ago, so they are likely to lend their numbers in support of his candidacy."

Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel argues that Florida needs moderates, but not opportunists.

Democrats, and Barack Obama, have found a new ally in the form of former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who endorsed the president's re-election in an op-ed article on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

It is a remarkable thing, this endorsement. Not because it comes from a former Republican who, just a few short years ago, was part of the conversation about being named John McCain's running mate.

More striking is its audacity. Make that, hypocrisy. Especially Crist's spirited defense of Obama's efforts to corral runaway Medicare spending.

Kimberley Strassel in the Wall Street Journal said of Crists decision to speak at the Democratic convention: The least surprising event of the entire presidential election came this weekend, when former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed Barack Obama for president. After all, Mr. Crist's middle name is "opportunism" -- and right now he sniffs potential in the Democratic Party.

In the Washington Examiner, which called Crist the epitome of an empty suit, Editorial Page Editor David Freddoso labels Crist The man who doesn't believe in anything.

There is a lesson here for political opportunists. Party switches made sense for the conservative Democrats who went to the GOP in the 1990s. They probably made sense for northeastern Republicans with liberal principles, like Jim Jeffords and Lincoln Chafee, who both left the GOP last decade.

But for Crist, it's different. He doesn't have any principles. He may have gotten the Democratic convention speaking slot he wanted, but he will probably never win the Democrats' love. As hard as it is to stand on principle, it's a much harder political world for someone who doesn't believe in anything.

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry said he directed his jests about Crist toward Democrats, claiming to be advising them of what they are getting.

But it will remain to be seen if the message is received or modified to provide a needed narrative to support what is perceived as a weak bench by the Democrats in which to draw statewide candidates heading into the 2014 campaign.

Time magazine ran a piece declaring that the Democrats would be smart to take Crist.

Then theres the 2014 Florida governors race," Time reported. "The Democrats chances ought to look good: current Republican governor Rick Scott, the Tea Party tycoon who spent $75 million of his own money to win the 2010 contest, has proved to be one of the countrys most unpopular governors. But if theres an outfit feckless enough to blow that opportunity, its Floridas Democratic Party, which hasnt won a gubernatorial election since 1994.

At the Independent Alligator, columnist, journalism and graduate student Moises Reyes called Crist the last of a dying breed.

Some may argue, quite fairly, that Crist is simply a wishy-washy opportunist, quick to exploit the mass repugnance caused by the vitriolic gridlock plaguing our current political system.

This is highly plausible.

After all, Crist has never been a progressive by any means, and on many issues, like gun rights and marriage equality, he has been rather in lockstep with his former party.

Still, there is certainly something to say about a politician unafraid to question or even directly oppose policy positions sacred to his own party, a phenomenon not often seen.

But The Daytona Beach News Journal believes Crists chameleon-like talent for blending into any political environment will eventually get in the way of any comeback.

Republicans think he should be tagged with an "O," for opportunist. Sadly, that assessment is pretty much on the mark.

Reach Jim Turner at or at (772) 215-9889.

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