Yesterday he addressed the Broward County Republican party to affirm his conservative credentials in the state and reassure key party activists that, contrary to challenger Marco Rubio’s criticisms, he is not a liberal.
However, it’s inevitable to notice that Governor Crist is part of a dying species of moderate Republicans. He considers himself pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-tax, but his supporters are reexaming his real political allegiance after heavily campaigning alongside President Barack Obama earlier this year to rally public opinion in favor of the American Recovery Act.
While Rubio continues to paint the Governor as a flaky liberal Republican, Crist is responding by making appeals to voters’ uncertainty about such a young radical.
That’s something he can’t escape. At 38 years of age, and with such an ambitious conservative agenda, Rubio has moderate Republicans and independents uncomfortable with his absolutist, anti-government platform. Rubio has positioned himself as an uncompromising ideological crusader, desecrating the popular governor’s proposals whenever possible without proposing appealing alternative ideas.
And that’s why he will lose the election.
Although the radical conservative base in Florida will support Rubio in the primary, it will be moderates and independents that will demand forward-thinking politicians and not haphazard, obstructionist ideologues. Instead of an aimless beating of the Obama administration, mainstream voters in 2010 will demand fresh ideas that are more enticing alternatives to Democratic proposals.
If Rubio can persuasively pitch positive ideas to party moderates and independents, he will finalize the most monumental political upset in state history. Until then, a dirty campaign will lead to a messy election, and Crist’s perception of integrity is what has ultimately made him such a popular governor among moderate Floridians.
According to a poll conducted by Daily Kos, Democrat Kendrick Meek would decisively defeat Rubio in a general election. He’d be swept if Republicans choose Crist in 2010, however.
The poll also reports that 73% of Republicans who believe President Obama was born in America would vote for the governor, while only 16% would vote for Rubio. Crist is defeated among “birther” Republicans who do not believe Obama is an American citizen.
Kyle Munzenrieder at the Miami New Times puts it best: WTF PEOPLE?