Obama Could Kill Charlie Crist’s Chances Still

Despite his party switch, Florida voters might see their former governor as being too close to the president.

ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 08: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) embraces former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist as he takes the stage during a campaign on the campus of St. Petersburg College September 8, 2012 in St Petersburg, Florida. Working with the momentum from this week's Democratic National Convention, Obama is doing a two-day campaign swing from one side of Florida to the other on the politically important I-4 corridor. 
National Journal
Beth Reinhard
Add to Briefcase
Beth Reinhard
Nov. 25, 2013, midnight

How many cam­paigns can one hug squeeze to death?

As the Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernor of Flor­ida, Charlie Crist paid dearly for put­ting his arms around Pres­id­ent Obama at a town hall tout­ing the Demo­crats’ eco­nom­ic-stim­u­lus plan in Feb­ru­ary 2009. The gov­ernor’s chief rival for the U.S. Sen­ate, Marco Ru­bio, re­played foot­age of the em­brace over and over, savaging Crist’s con­ser­vat­ive cre­den­tials.

Now run­ning as a Demo­crat for his old job, Crist may find that his con­tin­ued em­brace of an in­creas­ingly un­pop­u­lar pres­id­ent—and his con­tro­ver­sial health care law—could thwart him once again.

“The hug that crushed Charlie in 2009 doesn’t even com­pare to the boa con­strict­or of Obama­care that will crush him in 2014,” said Rick Wilson, a Tal­l­a­hassee-based Re­pub­lic­an strategist.

Crist an­nounced his party switch from a White House Christ­mas party last year and has stacked his 2014 cam­paign with former Obama staffers, mak­ing it easy for the GOP to yoke him to the pres­id­ent again. Earli­er this month, Crist at­ten­ded a fun­draiser in the Miami area head­lined by the pres­id­ent.

The re­la­tion­ship could be a li­ab­il­ity in Flor­ida, where a new Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity poll shows Obama with only 40 per­cent ap­prov­al, match­ing his low­est-ever rat­ing notched in 2011. That’s even worse than the 42 per­cent ap­prov­al of the cur­rent gov­ernor, Re­pub­lic­an Rick Scott, who is widely seen as one of the most vul­ner­able in­cum­bents in the coun­try.

Most im­port­antly, Crist has en­dorsed the pres­id­ent’s sig­na­ture health care law at a time when it’s strug­gling to get off the ground. “Hug­ging Obama­care,” read one re­cent at­tack from the Re­pub­lic­an Party of Flor­ida, which in­cluded, of course, a pic­ture of a Crist-Obama hug. A ma­jor­ity of Flor­ida voters op­pose the Af­ford­able Care Act, ac­cord­ing to Quin­nipi­ac.

And it’s not just Obama­care that threatens Crist.

Scott got the good news last week that Flor­ida led the na­tion in job growth in Oc­to­ber. The GOP crowed that since Scott’s elec­tion in 2010, un­em­ploy­ment has dropped from 11.1 per­cent to 6.7 per­cent in Oc­to­ber. Un­der Crist, who served as gov­ernor from 2007 to 2010, un­em­ploy­ment climbed from 3.5 per­cent to 11.1 per­cent.

“While Charlie Crist sup­ports policies like Obama­care that harm our eco­nomy, Rick Scott has im­ple­men­ted policies that have put Flor­ida ahead of the rest of the na­tion when it comes to job cre­ation,” said Flor­ida Re­pub­lic­an Party Chair­man Lenny Curry.

Months of these early at­tacks on Crist seem to be tak­ing a toll, as his fa­vor­ab­il­ity/un­fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ings have dropped to 41/39 per­cent, put­ting him nearly on par with Scott at 39/42 per­cent.

But the Quin­nipi­ac poll also showed Scott con­tinu­ing to trail Crist, al­though by a slightly smal­ler mar­gin of 7 points. Scott’s 42 per­cent job-ap­prov­al rat­ing com­pares un­fa­vor­ably to the 53 per­cent ap­prov­al of the job Crist did as gov­ernor. And a ma­jor­ity of voters, 53 per­cent, say Scott does not de­serve a second term.

“You are deal­ing with two guys with uni­ver­sal name ID who both have been gov­ernor and people have already made judg­ments on,” said Demo­crat­ic poll­ster John An­za­lone, one of the former Obama ad­visers now work­ing for Crist. “The na­tion­al dy­nam­ics are not go­ing to af­fect the gov­ernor’s race in Flor­ida.”

Scott is ex­pec­ted to raise as much as $100 mil­lion in at­tempt to se­cure his reelec­tion, while Crist’s fledgling cam­paign has been dogged by ru­mors that the only Demo­crat elec­ted statewide in Flor­ida, Sen. Bill Nel­son, hasn’t ruled out jump­ing in­to the gubernat­ori­al race. That’s an un­likely scen­ario, but the pro­spect could cause some long­time Demo­crat­ic donors to hes­it­ate to write checks to Crist.

What We're Following See More »
STAKES ARE HIGH
Debate Could Sway One-Third of Voters
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."

Source:
YOU DON’T BRING ME FLOWERS ANYMORE
Gennifer Flowers May Not Appear After All
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."

Source:
HAS BEEN OFF OF NEWSCASTS FOR A WEEK
For First Debate, Holt Called on NBC Experts for Prep
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

NBC's Lester Holt hasn't hosted the "Nightly News" since Tuesday, as he's prepped for moderating the first presidential debate tonight—and the first of his career. He's called on a host of NBC talent to help him, namely NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack; NBC News president Deborah Turness; the news division's senior vice president of editorial, Janelle Rodriguez; "Nightly News" producer Sam Singal, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, senior political editor Mark Murray and political editor Carrie Dann. But during the debate itself, the only person in Holt's earpiece will be longtime debate producer Marty Slutsky.

Source:
WHITE HOUSE PROMISES VETO
House Votes to Bar Cash Payments to Iran
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The House passed legislation late Thursday that would prohibit the federal government from making any cash payments to Iran, in protest of President Obama's recently discovered decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash in January. And while the White House has said Obama would veto the bill, 16 Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the measure, 254-163."

Source:
NO SURPRISE
Trump Eschewing Briefing Materials in Debate Prep
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shun­ning tra­di­tion­al de­bate pre­par­a­tions, but has been watch­ing video of…Clin­ton’s best and worst de­bate mo­ments, look­ing for her vul­ner­ab­il­it­ies.” Trump “has paid only curs­ory at­ten­tion to brief­ing ma­ter­i­als. He has re­fused to use lecterns in mock de­bate ses­sions des­pite the ur­ging of his ad­visers. He prefers spit­balling ideas with his team rather than hon­ing them in­to crisp, two-minute an­swers.”

Source:
×