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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist forced to skip weekend with McCain



UPDATE: Crist's office called the United Way of Broward County about 20 minutes ago to say he will make the event after all. Organizers were informed a week ago that he had a "scheduling conflict."

The United Way and other charity groups on Saturday are sponsoring the Governor's Bowl, a benefit for children and families in Broward County.

But what's a governor's bowl without the governor?

An e-mail being circulated among some financial backers says South Florida community and business leaders are "rather disgusted" with the governor, "who is ditching the event to be with McCain at yet another out of state campaign rally. ... Feel free to share with his staff as appropriate the level of discontent citizens are having over his absence from tending to Florida's needs."

The United Way of Broward County told the Buzz earlier today Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp was going to stand in for Crist. But when asked by the Buzz, Crist said he plans to attend.

He acknowledged he previously accepted an invitation from Sen. John McCain and his wife to socialize at their home in Sedona, Ariz.

"But as I say, if there's a United Way event that's really a governor's ball, I feel an obligation to stay." Sending Kottkamp is not an option, Crist said, because the United Way event is in his name.

Also said to be invited to the McCains' residence this weekend are South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp and their wives.

-- Alex Leary and Steve Bousquet

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:13pm]


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