Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Where’s Charlie?

When President Obama last came to Florida in February to tout his stimulus package, Gov. Charlie Crist (R) was there to greet him and stand with him on the stage and help him whoop up the crowd. This week, however, when the president dropped in for a couple of days, first in Jacksonville, then in Miami Beach, and then at a solar energy start-up, the governor was nowhere to be seen. He says he didn’t even know the President of the United States was in his state.

Crist told reporters Tuesday that he wasn’t aware Obama was honoring sailors and Marines less than 200 miles from the Capitol on Monday.

Crist is running for U.S. Senate and has been trying to distance himself from Obama and the $787 billion federal stimulus bill. His Republican primary opponent frequently reminds voters that Crist hugged the president at a Florida appearance to support the bill.

Crist said last week it was appropriate to show respect. But asked Tuesday about Obama’s event Monday, Crist said that was the first he’d heard of it. He later said he was aware Obama was coming but didn’t know the itinerary. Obama was also in the state Tuesday for an economic development meeting, and Crist said he didn’t join him because of a state cabinet meeting.

Yeah, I’m sure it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Marco Rubio, his primary opponent, is beginning to nip at his heels.

We’re beginning to see a pattern here. Ever since he’s decided to run for the Senate, he’s tried to suck up to the right wing. He’s selling himself as a fiscal conservative, bragging in a radio ad that he is responsible for cutting the state budget by 10%. Politifact rates that claim as Barely True since the state constitution requires a balanced budget and tax revenues are way off because of the recession. He voiced opposition to the proposed healthcare bill in the U.S. Senate by saying that the public option with the opt-out clause would be “ramming it down our throats.” (What part of “opt-out” and “option” does he not get?) He’s also trying to get on the good side of the staunchly anti-gay Christian Coalition in Florida, appearing as their “special guest” at their annual gala in November.

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by Mr. Crist’s behavior. It isn’t the first time he’s tried to pass himself off as something he’s not, and it won’t be his last.