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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

For Charlie Crist, a hug that helps, not hurts



Gov. Charlie Crist held a brief ceremony Thursday to sign a bill that's a priority of Florida's gun lobby. The bill (SB 1158 by Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness) grants protected status to Florida's concealed weapons permit trust fund, shielding it from future raids by a cash-starved Legislature.

The signing ceremony appeared to have a single purpose, as a photo-op for Crist, in the fight of his life for a U.S. Senate seat, to embrace the gun lobby, literally and figuratively. For Crist, in a tough primary, this was a much more politic hug with Republican voters than his embrace of President Obama last year.

NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, in her familiar bright red jacket, stood to Crist's right at the signing in the governor's office. "Give me a hug. I'm a hugger," Crist said as he embraced Hammer. "God bless you, Marion."

In the Q-and-A that followed, Crist said "I don't know" whether he'll sign the teacher tenure bill. "There are things about it that I like and things about it that give me some concern," he said. "I just want to weigh it out and continue to listen." He said "a lot of people throughout the state of Florida" wished they had more of a chance to shape the contents of the bill (SB 6). 

Crist said he called for a federal probe of Republican Party finances after previously saying he didn't think one was necessary because of "extraordinary revelations that have come to light about spending, and I think it's important that all of that be reviewed." 

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:27am]


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