Charlie Crist makes St. Petersburg the center of the political/media universe today
Cable news channels burbled over the possibilities all day Wednesday, as it became increasingly obvious that Crist was about to leave the Republican primary for Mel Martinez's old U.S. Senate seat.
With a rally scheduled at 5 p.m. today for maximum news coverage -- expect live shots on all local newscasts and cable newschannels -- Crist stands as an example of the highest-profile name derailed by super-conservative Tea Party movement's efforts to pull the GOP rightward.
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer on Wednesday called it a "political earthquake," rehashing the flash points which led to this moment for Crist, including his embrace -- literally and figuratively -- on President Obama's stimulus bill spending in the state. (they didn't note how odd it was that Crist has taken such a beating for doing publicly what other GOP officials did privately -- taking the federal money to avoid painful state budget cuts in the heart of the country's crushing recession).
"Here's what Charlie Crist should say 'I'm not leaving the GOP, the GOP left me,'" said CNN's Roland Martin Wednesday, hailing his possible departure from the Republican primary as "the best political move he can make."
ABC's Nightline tonight will air a story exploring a day in the life of Crist's GOP opponent, Marco Rubio, featuring anchor Terry Moran's interview with Rubio later today reacting to whatever Crist says during his event this evening.
Few national analysts have noted much beyond what Florida press have been saying for months; that Crist's moderate moves and a masterful attack from the right by Rubio have pushed him into leaving the GOP to save his own political future.
Whether that's a good move or bad one often depends on the political ideology of the analyst, with a FoxNews.com column headlined "Moderation Killed Charlie Crist's Career" to salon asking what might happen if Crist actually won as an independent.
Once again, a moment where Florida becomes the center of the political news universe. And not a hanging chad in sight.